At the front table in Shuman's Bakery where Alexandria's good old boys gathered for coffee and donuts, there was gloom two years ago when voters in the Democratic primary dumped feisty Nicholas A. (Nick) Colasanto from his city council seat.

Colasanto, then 74, was not one of the mourners. After 12 years on the council -- even after a federal corruption investigatin that most agree hastened the end of the city's old-line courthouse leadership -- Colasanto swore he would get his job back.

Yesterday -- declaring his age now to be 77 and his health "damned good . . . better than theirs (the incumbents)" -- Colasanto said he is ready to run in next spring's council election.

Why take on the burden of another campaign?

"Because I don't think the council has done anything worthwhile in the past three years," booms the Old Town attorney, who still likes to visit with his friends at Shuman's before heading daily to his office across from City Hall.

"I'll run as a Democrat, a Republican or an independent, but I'm not going to run in a primary. That's when you don't get too many votes" -- a lesson apparently learned in 1979 when he finished seventh of eight in his bid for a fifth three-year term.

Political leaders said yesterday it is too early to determine what effect, if any, a Colasanto candidacy might have on the race for the council, all six seats of which will be open. Council membership currently is split 3 to 3 between Republicans and Democrats, with Democratic Mayor Charles Beatley the tie-breaker.

Primaries, if warranted, would be held in March and the election early in May. Technically, anyone can run as a Republican, Alexandria GOP chairman Nancy McCabe acknowledged yesterday. Would Colasanto be welcome? "No comment," said McCabe.

"Colasanto's colorful, but he wouldn't have much influence on the campaign," said Democratic council member Donald C. Casey. "Without part support, Nick would have to do a lot of the work himself, and he's the same age as my father."

Caseey added, "Party candidates now have precinct workers. Some of Nick's precinct workers are dead."