WATCH: Doug Ford replaced brother Rob in the city’s mayoral race on Friday. Now, there are questions about the timing of the latest maneuvering by the Fords. Global’s Antony Robart reports.
TORONTO – Doug Ford is starting off his late entry into Toronto’s mayoralty race in a strong second place, even surpassing previous support for his brother Rob Ford who quit his bid in the midst of a health crisis, a new poll suggests.
The poll from Forum Research Inc. conducted the day Rob Ford dropped out shows Doug Ford at 34 per cent with more than one third support, seven points behind front-runner John Tory who sits in the lead at 41 per cent. Third place contender Olivia Chow has 19 per cent support, the poll says.
On September 8, a similar poll put Rob Ford’s support at 28 per cent, compared to Tory’s 41 per cent.
The poll also says one-third of voters are part of “Ford Nation,” the titular title for Torontonians who support the family. Of those who approve of Rob Ford, 80 per cent support Doug, the polls says.
But the poll also says a majority of voters, an average of 60 per cent, do not plan to vote for Ford on election day.
Meanwhile, a poll from Toronto public research firm Mainstreet Technologies says Rob Ford is poised to be elected as a city councillor in Ward 2, with almost 50 per cent of the vote.
The Mainstreet poll put Doug Ford in third place at 16 per cent compared to Tory at 45 per cent and Chow at 27 per cent.
On Friday, Doug Ford promised to “take the torch” from his brother.
“We want to build on the progress that Rob has made,” Ford said at a Friday evening press conference in front of his mother’s home. “And so, folks, I have officially entered this campaign.”
Ford, surrounded by several members of his family, touted what he saw as his brother’s accomplishments during his term as mayor.
“We’ve made the city work better for you…and not the special interest groups and the privileged few,” Ford said.
Ford said he is focusing on his brother’s health and family, but promised to speak in more detail about his campaign next week.
Ford, a first-term councillor, officially entered the mayor’s race just after 1 p.m. on Friday.
The deadline to have his name on the ballot was 2 p.m.
“So I’m good? Can you say it on the record that I’m good? That I’m running for mayor,” Ford said shortly before the deadline, after filing his candidacy form to run for mayor.
Jeff Silverstein, communications director for Mayor Ford’s election campaign, said Rob will run for councillor in Ward 2.
“My heart is heavy when I tell you that I’m unable to continue my campaign for re-election as your mayor,” Ford said in a statement. “While I’m unable to commit to the heavy schedule required for a mayoral candidate I will not turn my back on Ward 2.
“Four years ago we made history. With your help we started a movement that would take back our city.
“I was not alone in this, my big brother Doug was by my side, sharing my vision, fighting for the great people of Toronto. I never could have accomplished what we did without him.
“I’ve asked Doug to finish what we started together, so that all we’ve accomplished isn’t washed away.”
City councillor Paula Fletcher has been known to be an opponent of Doug Ford. She weighed in on his intention to take his brother’s place in the race for mayor.
“I do think it’s a game changer, the mayor stepping down under very unfortunate circumstances. Doug to come, we’ll just have to see what that’s going to look like now,” she said. “The mayor had been elected for 10 years when he ran for mayor and he was well known throughout the city. He’d visited people’s back yard. He did so many things and helped so many people individually.
“Doug has been here for 4 years now and he has openly said he can’t wait to come out.”
The mayor’s nephew, Michael Ford, who was running for council in Rob’s former ward, has also withdrawn.
Michael registered to run for Toronto District School Board trustee in Ward 1.
The mayor will undergo an MRI, but the biopsy results of a mass found in his abdomen won’t be known for about a week.
Earlier Friday, Doug said this is a tough and stressful situation for the family.
It is unclear if the mayor’s tumour is cancerous.
The 45-year-old mayor was admitted to hospital on Wednesday after complaining of abdominal pain that became “unbearable.”
However, it was not clear whether the sites had been registered on behalf of Ford on by a speculator. An employee of Vancouver-based Webnames Services, the registrar of dougfordformayor.com, would not say who had registered the URL for customer privacy reasons.
Video: Doug Ford visits ailing brother in hospital
Ford was transferred to Mount Sinai Hospital from Humber River Regional Hospital on Thursday for further treatment.
Dr. Zane Cohen, an internationally recognized colorectal surgeon at Mount Sinai, said the mayor has been given painkillers and is “resting comfortably.”
Meanwhile, another mayoral debate took place Friday morning with only John Tory and Olivia Chow.
The event was hosted by the Ontario Home Builders’ Association and saw the candidates spar over issues relating to the building and development industry.
The Forum poll was conducted using an interactive voice survey of 1228 randomly selected voters in Toronto on Sept. 12. Results are considered accurate +/- 3 per cent, 19 times out out of 20.
-With a file from Global News’ Patrick Cain, and files from The Canadian Press