What’s next for Rob Ford and Toronto’s mayoral race?
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is in hospital – transferred from Humber to Mount Sinai for further tests on Thursday – awaiting test results on a tumour in his abdomen.
“We did a CT scan and biopsy of the mass in the abdomen. We also did a CT of the chest and an ultrasound examination,” said Dr. Zane Cohen, an internationally recognized colorectal surgeon overseeing the clinical team for Ford. “Tomorrow (Friday) we need to do further examinations in the form of an MRI.”
Cohen added results from these examinations will not become available for approximately one week but says Ford is resting comfortably, surrounded by family.
Amid concerns for his health is uncertainty as to whether he’ll stay in the mayoral race and what this means for the rest of the campaign, which culminates in a vote Oct. 27.
If Ford is forced to bow out, he’d leave behind a powerful voting base of hard-core supporters known as Ford Nation.
According to the most recent polls, Ford sits in second behind John Tory after overtaking Olivia Chow in the last six weeks of the campaign. Some have wondered whether his brother and campaign manager Doug Ford – who’s spent the past four years as councillor but isn’t running for re-eleciton – will put his name on the ballot instead.
WATCH: Toronto Mayor Rob Ford remains in hospital after being diagnosed with a tumour in his abdomen. Mark Carcasole reports.
If he wanted to, he doesn’t have much time to do it: The deadline is this Friday, Sept. 12 at 2 p.m.
“The prospect of Doug Ford taking over and running is quite interesting,” said David Dunne, an adjunct professor at the Rotman School of Business, where he teaches branding and marketing.
“Doug Ford doesn’t have quite the baggage that Rob Ford might have. So if [Doug] were to step in it might give the Ford campaign a bit of boost,” said Dunne.
If Rob Ford were to withdraw his name from the race to be the city’s next mayor, it would leave a two-way race between John Tory and Chow. And according to a poll conducted Monday, Tory sits in first with a sizeable lead of 40 per cent support to Chow’s 21 per cent. Ford is second at 28 per cent.
John Mascarin, an attorney specializing in municipal law, said it would take an extraordinary set of circumstances for Doug Ford to enter into the mayoral election.
“Quite honestly no I don’t see it happening. I think Doug Ford clearly had some reason why he didn’t want to seek re-election,” said Mascarin. “But it’s a whole other question whether he might feel compelled to run if his brother can’t continue on. The Ford brand is a popular one with a certain segment of the population and it certainly reverberates with Ford Nation. “
But the brothers are different people. And Mascarin said it’s not clear whether Doug Ford will be able to galvanize voters the way Rob has.
“I think Rob Ford is, for lack of a better word, a unique candidate. He has unique characteristics that resonate with some people.” Mascarin said. “I’m not sure Doug Ford has the same uniqueness that would potentially graft on people who are undecided.”
WATCH: Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong sends well wishes to Rob Ford
Rob Ford’s tenure as mayor has been punctuated by a series of scandals related to his substance abuse and involvement with alleged criminals that included a stint in an Ontario rehab facility during a leave of absence last spring (the mayor still hasn’t addressed how a woman who’d been at the facility came to be charged with drunk driving behind the wheel of his car while he was still at rehab).
If the mayor does leave the election race, it opens the door to a whole range of potential scenarios, said Myer Siemiatycki, a politics and public administration professor at Ryerson University.
“It really all depends on what that medical diagnosis is going to be,” said Siemiatycki. “I can’t think of any parallel to this situation, where in the home stretch of a mayoralty campaign one of the major candidates’ ability to continue is put in jeopardy.”
If Ford is unable to continue, it becomes a whole new campaign, Siemiatycki said.
“To this point for those not voting for Ford the issue was which candidate had the best shot at defeating him. … But if you take Ford out of the equation there will be a lot more careful consideration of [Tory and Chow] and the track record of those two candidates,” he said.
If that scenario were to happen Siemiatycki said “you can throw out the polls because we have a whole new ball game.”
*With files from Global’s Mark McAllister
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