Outside the Knights of Columbus, Newtown Square GOP boss Mike Gillin stood under an overhang, smoking a cigarette. He picked a good day not to quit.
His local party is in disarray but he seemed downright giddy with how things were working out.
Supervisor incumbent Linda Houldin and a group of her friends and supporters have been in open rebellion against Gillin for months. She managed to retain the party endorsement in a crazily contentious party nominating process. And yet Gillin appears likely to have the last laugh. In helping to get former Marple Newtown School Board President Ed Partridge to run against Houldin, Gillin and his guys have provided a smart, friendly and competent alternative to 'Lightning Rod' Linda.
"I think people are fed up," said Gillin, with a number of different issues from sewers, to sloppy and downright rude township management.
As for Houldin, Gillin pulled no punches.
"She's stubborn. She wants to control everything. And if you cross her you're on her revenge list," he said.
Somehow I'd rather be on Houldin's revenge list than Gillin's.
I asked him about county GOP leadership efforts to get the two to sit down and hash out their problems. After all, she obviously has a following. Gillin acknowledged the sit down but said simply, "It didn't work."
He sang Partridge's praises, proclaiming him to be a "fiscal conservative" who has his MBA and a record as a school board director of keeping taxes as low as possible.
He predicted a solid Partridge victory.
I asked him about the anonymously written web site FIRELINDA.COM and asked him what part he had in setting it up. He just laughed.
"I wish I could take credit of it. Who's ever writing it," he said, "has all the facts."
Over in the 2nd Ward, Houldin stood inside the Messiah Lutheran Church greeting voters. When I introduced myself she smiled pleasantly and shook my offered hand. In the past she has refused to talk to me about controversial issues involving her and the township.
"How's it looking?" I asked.
"I can't even tell you. It's that close," she said with a tight smile.
"It's been a pretty rough campaign," I offered.
"The worst campaign I've ever seen in the history of Newtown," she said. She blamed Gillin for a lot of it.
I told her Gillin said he was willing to sit down with her after tonight and try to put their differences behind them.
"No comment on that right now," she said and stared straight ahead. Her campaign manager, Jim Stefanides stood nearby.
I asked her if the results of the primary would have any affect on upcoming appointment of the new supervisor.
"I don't think it should," she replied.
Stefanides has applied for the position. He said he expected the "process" to take it's course. Which is to say, no matter who wins today, the fireworks aren't over in Newtown.
Outside, Partridge greeted residents, introducing himself, as they came in to vote. For a rainy primary, the turnout was pretty good.
Earlier he'd been dragged into Common Pleas court by Houldin who claimed his literature was illegally misleading. Judge Chad Kenney disagreed and dismissed the matter.
"He told (Linda) to work harder at the polls," Partridge said with a smile.
Confidence was running high in his camp.
"Unless something monumental happens, it looks good," he said. And then with mock grandeur, "The people of Newtown have responded!"
More than 200 people at this precinct had shown up to vote by 1:30 p.m. Some 200 more were expected. Not bad for an ugly, rainy, off-year primary.
Reported Gillin, "Some guy came up to me this morning and said, 'This was the first primary I ever voted in. But this one counts.'"
As for his responsibility for this political hornets nest, Gillin said, "We got them elected but I can't keep their jobs for them."
It seems as far as he's concerned if Linda Houldin loses tonight she fired herself.