Each year, state Rep. Dwight Evans (shown above), appropriations chair and Philadelphia Democrat, hosts a lunch during the day and a party once the polls close at Relish, a restaurant on Ogontz Avenue in Northwest Philly. As the mostly African-American crowd of supporters noshed on chicken, mac n cheese and greens, Evans worked the room and did interviews with assembled press -- sidling up to this reporter and explaining that he wanted everyone in the room to "Twitter it, Facebook it, whatever you can do" to spread the word that it is Election Day.
Out front, a van papered with Democratic signs broadcasts a message through loudspeakers reminding passers-by to "Vote the Obama Democratic ticket" -- the pitch that Democrats are using to get supporters to the polls this year, which basically comes down to: "We know you have no idea who Dan Onorato and Joe Sestak are, but President Obama likes them so you should too."
The local leaders here in Northwest Philadelphia are keenly aware, and proud, of their role in trying to head off the state's presumed Republican wave. U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah reminded the faithful that Philadelphia's high turnout was crucial to President John F. Kennedy's win in 1960.
U.S. Sen Bob Casey, Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chair Jim Burn, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and other city leaders gathered at Relish as well to give a midday news conference proclaiming anecdotal reports of better than expected turnout -- though it is unclear what exactly those expectations were. Philadelphia media is reporting high turnout levels, as well.
"Whenever somebody's running statewide they come to the Northwest," said state Rep. Cherelle Parker. "Because they know we deliver the numbers."
Casey said that if the vote in Philadelphia and the collar suburbs reaches 30 percent of the statewide total "that's a good day." And Onorato called in, via Nutter's cell phone, to reiterate the importance of the city of Brotherly Love.
"Philadelphia is going to make me the governor tonight,"said the Allegheny County Executive, who likes to joke that he moved to Philly for the past two years to campaign.
"A lot of people are going to have to eat crow tonight because Democrats actually showed up to vote."