The Rob Ford Publicity Train

Originally written for Which is a great source for election news.

I started following the mayoral election in mid-August. Since then, I’ve seen the name Rob Ford in every other

Rob Ford needs your help

article I’ve picked up. Even on this blog, many of the past headlines have mentioned him. He’s simply ubiquitous. Yet, despite no one having anything good to say about him, he’s head and shoulders above the rest. (This was until today at least, when a new Ipsos Reid poll has Ford and George Smitherman neck-and-neck.) It’s gotten so out of hand that other candidates are working under an “anyone-but-Ford” doctrine. What is it about this guy that’s got people hooked? Anti-gravy train is only one point.


Any publicity is good publicity, right? Well, Ford has publicity coming out of his ears. You can’t pick up a newspaper with seeing his name two or three times per page. You can’t even whisper the word “mayor” without hearing everyone’s opinion on Ford. And as bad as that is, that’s what sticks. To expedite the process, Ford’s opposition has adopted the “anyone-but-Ford” attitude. If anything, this is what is driving people to look into Ford’s platform. Why is it taking four, now three, mayoral hopefuls to bring down the big, bad Ford?

The “anyone-but-Ford” campaign is not particularly inspiring. That may be the difference, Ford’s campaign is “Vote For Ford” while three other candidates messages are “Don’t Vote For Ford.” Even with the Smitherman and Sarah Thomson team stepping up to head the “anti-Ford” campaign, it may not be enough.

Conversely, endorsements might be the key to winning this election. We have to accept Ford for what he is, a force to be reckoned with, with the election being Ford versus everyone else. Perhaps dividing the voters three-ways is the problem. With Thomson bowing out of the race, but endorsing Smitherman, it will push Thomson’s supporters to back Smitherman, as the aforementioned poll is showing. On top of that, as David Miller relinquishes his mayoral duties, he announced that he is backing Joe Pantalone. Smitherman’s brother, who is running for Ward 2 council isn’t even supporting Smitherman, he’s supporting Ford; perhaps Ford’s support is strictly political and not personal.

Ford’s campaign also puts the opposition in a tricky spot. His main focus is to cut spending by lowering the number of council members from 44 to 22 and to decrease the budgets’ of City Hall staff. Kyle Rae’s $12,000 party (which sounds like a great movie) is still fresh in voter’s minds after all. But Ford has the universal argument here; an argument that is not easily argued against. Any candidate opposing this budget cut is going to have to have a good excuse for keeping the money for Town Hall, as council spending is increasing on taxes. This is Ford’s main line of defence.

So what is it that’s making Rob Ford so popular? Good question. It’s not his football coaching reputation (which ended up as a failed attempt to defame), nor is it his DUI in Florida (again, maybe blown out of proportion), or his hot temper, or any of the other things he’s received bad press about, including the OxyContin debacle. But then again, maybe it is, maybe what he’s done is irrelevant, his name is out there, people want to talk about him and for some that’s reason enough to vote. All the things he’s been accused of have ended up just making him stronger. The more we hear the other names the more people will get involved.

But all I’m hearing about is Rob Ford.

– Bryan

  1. I found this site that describes what happened when someone mentioned Rob Ford’s name at a Thanksgiving dinner in Toronto – seems like what might happen to our city if Ford gets in:

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