The message from Toronto mayoral candidate John Tory was that he would be Rob Ford without the personal scandals.
Rob Ford's brother, Etobicoke Ward 2 Councilor Doug Ford, is Rob Ford without the personal scandals, right down to their shared DNA. Doug is neither a drinker or a partier and is every bit the fiscal conservative that Rob Ford is.
Tory, relying on Ford voters fed up with the mayor's antics to form the bulk of his support, now is faced with voters having a new alternative as Doug replaced Rob as a mayoral candidate yesterday. With Rob Ford's unshakable support likely to stay in place for Doug, Tory will have to fight hard to keep his voter base from hemorrhaging to the Ford camp.
Olivia Chow faces the same problem with Doug Ford's entry into the mayoral race. Chow, who is childless, based her election platform on the inane mantra, "Rob Ford is not a good role model for my grandchildren."
But Rob Ford isn't running for mayor anymore. Now the inarticulate, inept Olivia Chow will have to run on her merits, and being the widow of Jack Layton, as her steady decline in the polls suggest, isn't going to be nearly enough to make her a serious contender.
Chow may try to hammer away at Doug Ford for having stood by his brother Rob during his travails. Should she do that, it would likely backfire in a big way. All Chow attacking the elder Ford brother would accomplish would be to highlight that Doug is a loyal and devoted friend while Chow is not.
Less than a month ago, when Chow's top strategist Warren Kinsella sent out a foolhardy twitter "tweet" implying that John Tory was a racist, Chow immediately distanced herself from him in the most dishonest way possible. It was widely understood that Kinsella was running Chow's "war room" rapid response team, yet Chow implausibly claimed that he was just "one of thousands" of her volunteers. (I won't go into the implausibility of Chow having "thousands" of volunteers for now.)
I'm not a fan of Mr. Kinsella nor his tactics, but one thing that can be said in his favor is that while he is working for a candidate, he is fiercely passionate and gives it his all. Chow could have said that Kinsella was being over-enthusiastic, point out that he had already apologized for the tweet, and left it at that. But instead she insulted the intelligence of Toronto's voters by being obviously dishonest about Kinsella's role on her team, and threw a dedicated supporter of hers to the wolves.
Contrast that with Doug Ford, who stood by a campaign volunteer who stupidly assaulted a halfwit who decided to trespass at the Ford campaign office the other week. While the action of the volunteer was idiotic, the episode reminded people that Doug Ford is loyal to his supporters and Chow is not.
Beyond that, Chow's claim to restoring integrity to the mayor's office is belied by her continuing to lie about having lived in a federally-subsidized co-op apartment.
Election day in Toronto is six-and-a-half weeks away, on October 27. The only thing that's certain between now and then is that municipal politics in Toronto will have some interesting moments to come.