The 10 defining moments in the Toronto mayoral race
The ten defining moments in the Toronto mayoral race will surely appear in a new light when the winner is determined later this evening. But with the campaigning just about wrapped and the polls open until 8 p.m., a look back at the key events that unfolded over the last year or so becomes something of a cathartic experience.
We'll be live-blogging the results as they come in later this evening, but for now let's recall how this race went down in anticipation of the next mayor of Toronto.
Miller announces that he will not run for re-electionLove him or hate him, the mayoral race would have been profoundly different had David Miller run for a third term. His surprise announcement in late September last year blew the race open before it had even begun. And yet, despite his formal absence from the ballot, Miller remained a massive presence in the race as the leading candidates all tried to distance themselves from his policies and legacy.
Adam Giambrone drops out of the race
Perhaps the one candidate who would have remained aligned with Miller never got his campaign off the ground. Shortly after the release of his jokey YouTube video announcing his candidacy, Adam Giambrone was forced to admit to having had multiple affairs after a Toronto Star story revealed his relationship with then 19-year-old Kristen Lucas. With Giambrone out, Joe Pantalone become the sole progressive amongst the leading candidates.
The Rise of Rob Ford
Rob Ford entered the mayoral race on March 25, when George Smitherman had a comfortable lead over everybody. But, as of a mid-June Nanos poll, he had already displaced Smitherman as the front-runner. Despite surprise (and a hefty dose of contempt) from left-leaning dowtowners, Ford's straightforward message of fiscal restraint and respect for taxpayers has continued to strike a chord with voters (or at least those participating in phone-in polls).
John Tory announces that he will not run for mayorPerhaps not as significant as Miller's announcement that he would not run for re-election, John Tory's decision not to enter the race (first in January and then again in August) also came as a surprise and surely paved the way for Ford's continued popularity. But, despite numerous polls showed that the former lead of the provincial conservatives would have been a strong candidate, Tory remained committed to his role as chair of the Toronto City Summit Alliance.
All press is good press for Rob Ford
Going into mid-August Rob Ford's status as front-runner looked like it might be in jeopardy when a series of scandals rocked his campaign. It started with anti-immigration remarks at an August 17 debate and continued when it was revealed that he had been charged with DUI and marijuana possession in Miami in 1999. About a month earlier the mayoral candidate also faced allegations that he had a physical altercation with a student while coaching football at Newtonbrook High School in 2001. But rather than a fall from grace, these storms of negative press actually served to solidify Ford's support, and according to the next poll (conducted by the National Post/Ipsos Reid) he had only increased his lead.
The last day to register as a mayoral candidate passes without a white-knight
2 p.m. on September 10 came and went without a significant new entry into the race (sorry Weizhen Tang). Although David Miller joked around by flaunting a wad of cash in his hand (the entrance fee is $200), many were disappointed that the then five leading candidates were all the city was going to have to choose from. Has that feeling really changed?
Rocco Rossi Proposes the Toronto TunnelGiven that Rossi is no longer in the race, this might seem like an odd entry. But, really, it has got to be the dumbest idea (and thus one of the most noteworthy) that was floated during the race. What else is there to say?
Thomson and Rossi drop out
With consistently low polling numbers, Sarah Thomson calls it quits on September 28, choosing to throw her endorsement at George Smitherman. Rossi waits to make his exit on October 13 after the results of another poll indicate that he can't break out of single digit support. Joe Pantalone, for his part, sticks out until the end of the race.
Joe Pantalone receives Mayor Miller's endorsement
David Miller finally decides to formally endorse Pantalone on October 6, but the mayor's support doesn't provide the momentum the progressive candidate hopes it will with subsequent polls still putting him at 15% of the decided vote.
On the heels of Thomson's endorsement, Smitherman's campaign experiences a resurgence with notable backings from Ken Greenberg, John Sewell and David Crombie. And as the anyone-but-Ford movement galvanizes, Smitherman's polling numbers temporarily draw him even with his main competitor. The Toronto Star and Globe and Mail also back Smitherman, while the Sun and Post offer their support to Ford. The last poll going into the elect shows the latter with an 8-point lead over the former.
________ is Toronto's next mayor
I'll fill in the blank later tonight!