The six things we learned when the mayoral campaign managers met to dish dirt on the election

The six things we learned when the mayoral campaign managers met to dish dirt on the election

(Image: Scot Snider from the Flickr pool) 

Last Friday morning, the former managers of the final three big contestants in Toronto’s mayoral race all got together and dished the dirt on the long campaign. Representing Rob Ford, George Smitherman and Joe Pantalone were Nick Kouvalis, Bruce Davis and Bret Snider, respectively.  (Rocco Rossi’s Bernie Morton was there, too.) There were shocking revelations, totally banal non-revelations, and then there was the stuff that was contradicted only a few hours later. Here, the six best tidbits.

1.  Rob Ford and Sandra Bussin finally have something in common
Remember the time outgoing councillor Sandra Bussin called in to John Tory’s radio show and called him a “three time loser”? Someone in the Ford campaign must have thought that was a really good idea, because the team sent an anonymous caller to pick a fight with Tory over his integrity. Because nothing says “integrity” like anonymously mocking political rivals in public, right? Tory, for the record, says none of Ford’s tricks swayed his decision not to run.

2. Ford really does love his football players
Kouvalis choked up at one point describing how, in the middle of the race, coach Ford got up in the middle of the night to help one of his players who needed to be bailed out of jail.

3. Voters confused the hell out of the experts
Bruce Davis explained one focus group that blew his mind, according to the Toronto Star: “A woman was grappling with what she considered to be two unappealing propositions… ‘She said, ‘If I had to choose between a guy who beats his wife and a guy who wasted $1 billion, I’d pick the guy who beats his wife.’ I asked myself, ‘What kind of a fucking city am I living in?'” Davis tried to explain, in vain, that neither of those options represented the truth.

4. Smitherman’s sexuality was an issue, despite all the denials
A number of people in the Smitherman campaign denied repeatedly throughout the race that Smitherman’s being gay had anything to do with his struggles in the polls, and those denials continued on Friday—sort of. Davis said there were times when people would shout “I’m not voting for that fucking faggot.” Of course, there’s an old joke about anecdotes not being the same as data.

5. John Tory is just plain helpful
For about five hours on Friday, the city press corps was in a tizzy over Kouvalis’ disclosure that John Tory had offered to take a job in the new mayor’s office. As it turned out, Tory was thinking more along the lines of “useful adviser,” not “full-time mayoral assistant.” Tory cleared it up on his radio show Friday afternoon.

6. Like Kim Campbell said, elections are no time to discuss serious issues
One of the points of consensus among all the leaders was that most of the policy proposals amounted to nothing—voters weren’t having it. Probably the most telling remark came from Kouvalis, who said that because Ford could never win in a debate on style or eloquence, he should attack people who weren’t even in the race—David Miller, Kyle Rae and John Tory. Oddly, Ford made the election about him vs. non-candidates, which sort of explains what happened.

• Managers spill secrets of campaign [National Post]
• Did Ford campaign’s tricks knock Tory out? [Toronto Star]
Peter Kuitenbrouwer: How the mayoral race was won [National Post]
• Tory to be on Ford’s staff? [Toronto Sun]
• An insider’s look into political darkness [NOW Magazine]
• Ford campaign admits playing tricks on Tory [Globe and Mail]