Peter C. Newman and six Rocco Rossi staffers defect to Smitherman. Let the sniping begin

Peter C. Newman and six Rocco Rossi staffers defect to Smitherman. Let the sniping begin

Yesterday afternoon, the news broke that six former staffers for the Rocco Rossi campaign were defecting and signing on with George Smitherman. Some of the names are unsurprising, to say the least. Saachin Aggarwal, Rossi’s former campaign manager, switched sides—but he was famously shuffled out of the campaign back in August because he was trying to get Rossi himself to endorse Smitherman. Of course, neither campaign has much to gain by this being a dog-bites-man story, so instead voters get a raging argument over how important these six staffers were. The Smitherman team claims the defections are damaging Rossi’s campaign. Rossi’s people, both in a press release and in the pages of the Toronto Sun, effectively say “good riddance.”

“Every single one of these individuals was either hired by, or associated with, Mr. Aggarwal, who has not been involved with the campaign in any way, shape, or form since (Morton) took over and, unsurprisingly, followed him after being fired or quitting the campaign,” Rossi officials said.

Bernie Morton said his predecessor’s shift wasn’t surprising.

“He had his nose out of joint when he was released from the campaign,” Morton said. “As Rocco said, (Aggarwal’s) claim to fame is he took him from second to fifth.”

Of course, Morton’s claim to fame is that Sarah Thomson took the Rossi campaign from fifth to fourth. But no matter.

Meanwhile, Stefan Baranski, spokesperson for the Smitherman campaign, called the defections “devastating” for Rossi. Maybe, but it’s not a stirring endorsement of the Smitherman campaign, either. These people didn’t sign on early, and even now their endorsement is explicitly about fear of the looming Ford era. And we’d wager that the number of people wondering who Saachin Aggarwal was voting for is probably less than one (even if that one is Peter C. Newman, who defected to Smitherman over the weekend, too).

• Rossi not concerned over loss of staff to Smitherman [Toronto Sun]
• Rossi’s ex-campaign manager defects to Smitherman [Toronto Star]
• Six former Rossi organizers join Smitherman campaign [Globe and Mail]
• Rossi backers defect to Smitherman [National Post]