About a week ago, it appeared that John Tory, leading in the race for Toronto mayor, was finally going to bury his political reputation as a five time loser.
(Campaign manager for PC leader Kim Campbell’s disastrous 1993 federal Tory campaign; loser to David Miller in Toronto mayoral race of 2003; loser to Kathleen Wynne in 2007 Ontario provincial election- Don Valley West riding; loser to Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty as Ontario Tory leader in same election; and loser in a 2009 Ontario provincial by-election for long-held Conservative provincial seat of Kawartha Lakes- Haliburton- Brock)
At that time, a Nanos poll of decided voters had Tory firmly in the lead with 42% and Rob Ford (28%) and Olivia Chow (26%), both campaigns apparently stalled .
A subsequent September 8, Forum Research poll had Tory at 40%, Rob Ford at 28% and Chow dropping further to 21%.
Then this crazy race took a turn to the truly bizarre. And John Tory’s path to victory is now- not so certain.
On Wednesday, September 10, Rob Ford checked himself into the hospital complaining of severe stomach pains.
By Friday, September 12, it was clear that Rob Ford may be suffering from life-threatening cancer. As a result, Rob Ford withdrew from the mayor al race and was replaced by his brother and his campaign manager, Doug Ford.
Forum Research conducted a snap poll that same day. And contrary to the pundits, revealed some surprising results.
Doug Ford was breathing down Tory’s neck
Tory’s support had increased to 41%, but now Doug Ford was breathing down Tory’s neck at 34%, just 7 points behind. And Chow had fallen further behind at 19%.
As with Rob Ford, Doug Ford’s support is with lower income residents, men and suburbanites.
As I expected, 80% of Ford Nation which supported Rob Ford will support Doug Ford.
Doug Ford leads among those residents earning between $20,000-60,000, Toronto’s heartland.
Also he is more competitive than Rob Ford, in the suburbs: Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough.
John Tory should be afraid. He should be very afraid.
To date Tory’s campaign, though well-managed and well-funded, has been quite lackluster.
Tory has primarily campaigned on the basis that he is fiscally as responsible as Rob Ford, but without the drama and questionable behavior.
Accordingly, many Toronto voters, who liked Rob Ford’s fiscal policies, but were personally offended by Rob Ford’s personal issues, parked their votes with Tory.
With the arrival of Doug Ford on the scene, a straight-laced family man, teetotaler and tough fiscal conservative- Toronto voters have another choice other than John Tory and the socially conscious Olivia Chow.
John Tory has a sorry political history of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory ( public funding of faith-based private schools) with some of the worst political instincts in Canadian political history (recall his negative advertising of Jean Chretien’s partially paralyzed face during the Kim Campbell campaign debacle).
On Friday, as Doug Ford, the Ford family and Ford supporters were still reeling from news that Rob Ford had withdrawn from the mayoral race and was potentially suffering life-threatening cancer, John Tory exhibited his signature political tone deafness of which he is infamous.
Instead of just wishing Rob Ford a speedy recovery, Tory decided to take this opportunity to attack Doug Ford for being divisive and for probably being a much worse mayor than Rob Ford. Tory’s diatribe was shameful and low. Hitting Doug Ford, a man who is down and grieving for the health of his brother whom he truly loves. Tory demonstrated a true lack of class. With this performance, Tory came across as a hard, self-entitled, insensitive twit.
So much for John Tory’s alleged likeability factor.
In contrast, Doug Ford, that same Friday night, spoke movingly of his brother’s condition and that he, Doug, had decided, reluctantly at the request of his brother, to take up the torch of his brother and continue his brother’s fight. Doug Ford, was thoughtful, emotional, warm, compassionate, humbled, diplomatic and subdued.
Contrary to the pundits, he did not lash out against John Tory’s earlier criticism.
Doug Ford is smart, disciplined, charitable, generous and a caring family man.
I fully suspect that in the next six weeks of the campaign, Toronto voters will become familiar with these positive qualities of Doug Ford.
Doug Ford will be a formidable opponent to John Tory.
And this exciting race ain’t over yet, folks!