Doug Ford set to run against John Tory in mayoral rematch
Brother of former mayor Rob Ford is set to announce that he plans to challenge Mayor John Tory in next year’s Toronto election.
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Doug Ford will announce next Friday that he plans to challenge Mayor John Tory in the 2018 Toronto election, sources say.
Ford has quietly been building a team in his bid for a rematch against Tory, who beat him in the 2014 municipal vote.
Joe Reis, one of the federal Conservative Party’s top campaign organizers, has been phoning around to elicit support for the former city councillor.
“Right now, I’m just shaking the trees and seeing if the people that I worked with before will come out for him like they did for his brother (former mayor Rob Ford, who died last year),” he said Friday.
Reis, who is also well-respected in provincial Progressive Conservative circles, said Torontonians are wary of a bloated civic bureaucracy that fails to deliver on key services.
“We go back to what his brother used to say: be there for the taxpayer. Drain the swamp . . . although I think that was another bushy-haired guy,” he said, referring to U.S. President Donald Trump, who has been likened to Rob Ford.
“It’s the same principle, right? Stop the gravy train. I think they’re getting back on the gravy train.”
Even though the current mayor was leader of the Progressive Conservatives from 2004 until 2009, “the only thing Tory about that man is his name,” Reis joked.
“I don’t think he’s conservative enough. We need someone who will really pull the purse strings back together and make sure the city understands why they’re there,” he said.
Asked what the response has been to Ford’s nascent campaign, Reis said: “very good, it’s been excellent. I’ve only had pushback from one person, who will remain nameless, because he has a vested interest in seeing that John Tory is returned.”
“I understand his personal vested interest . . . and I respect it, but I think, on the whole, people have been supportive. It will be a good run. I think Doug will have a good team,” he said, adding hastily “if he decides to enter.”
Ford, who had been toying with running for Patrick Brown’s Progressive Conservatives in the June 7, 2018 provincial election, told the Star to “wait until Friday,” when he will announce his plan at the family Ford Fest barbecue in Etobicoke.
Tory’s campaign would welcome a reprise of the 2014 election, which was a referendum on Rob Ford’s tenure when Toronto was ridiculed around the world for the ex-mayor’s exploits, which included smoking crack.
“People vividly remember the chaos and dysfunction of the Ford years, and they don’t want to go back,” said one source on the Tory re-election effort, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss internal strategy.
“Also, Toronto voters find Trump-style politics repugnant and will not be inclined to look favourably on a candidate who embodies them and has publicly expressed his admiration for the guy,” said the insider, referring to Ford’s praise of Trump.
Amanda Galbraith, Tory’s former director of communications and his campaign spokeswoman in 2014 before she became a principal at Navigator Ltd., also made the comparison with the mercurial American president.
“Doug is basically Donald Trump Light. If he wants a rematch, I think voters will take one look at him and say, ‘No, thanks. We’ve seen this movie. We’ve got the T-shirt. We’ve moved on,’ ” she wrote in email.
Galbraith added that a reboot of 2014 would be “an election and narrative the mayor has fought and won before.”
“From a political perspective, Doug will drive voters from (the) left to the mayor. It’s a narrative that works for him. If I were Doug, I’d stick to making stickers,” she added, referring to Ford’s decals-and-tags business.
Ford said Friday he knows Tory’s “little game will be to try to compare me to Donald Trump,” but rejects any parallels.
Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals want him to run for the provincial Tories, because they believe the Trump comparisons will hurt Brown.
“I used to take it as a real insult when they compared Rob to Donald Trump; Rob Ford was Rob Ford, and the Fords are the Fords, and we’re going to do what we’ve always done for 25 years for the taxpayers,” said Ford.
The next municipal election will be held Oct. 22, 2018, four years after the last election, in which Tory received 394,775 votes compared to 330,610 for Ford, who only entered the race after Rob Ford dropped out for health reasons, late in the campaign.
There have been changes to election rules. The campaign period is now shorter. It used to be that nominations could be filed on Jan. 1. Next year, nominations can be made May 1.
Campaign finance rules have changed, too; the maximum contribution a candidate can make to his or her campaign is now $25,000.
Previously, there was no limit on what a candidate could spend as long as it did not exceed the overall spending limit, which was $1.36 million in 2014.
That year, Doug Ford spent $558,724 of his own money to run for mayor, after his brother Rob’s cancer diagnosis forced Rob to drop out in September. Doug Ford raised $356,167 in donations.
Tory, who didn’t spend any of his own money, received $2.8 million from more than 5,000 donors.