And then there were three: after one last terrible, horrible, no good, very bad poll, Rocco Rossi drops out of the race
Arriving at the Rocco Rossi campaign headquarters at 9 p.m. last night was pretty surreal for the glut of reporters who responded to his announcement. Up until a few hours before, Rossi was considered one of the serious, if struggling, candidates in the race. That all changed at 4 p.m., when a Newstalk 1010 poll conducted by Ipsos Reid showed Rossi badly trailing at four per cent—and only three per cent among committed voters. (To put this in perspective: the poll’s margin of error is 4.9 per cent.) In just over an hour, the Rossi campaign sent out a press release saying he was still in the race, followed by another release at 7:30 saying Rossi would “make an important announcement” later in the evening. Somewhere between the two press releases—5:30 and 7:30 yesterday evening—Rossi decided to drop out. Perhaps more significantly, he is not endorsing another candidate.
Surrounded by his family and supporters, Rossi explained that his campaign had tried, and failed, to light a fire with Toronto voters. “Despite my efforts to focus this race around issues and ideas that I feel matter, it has become clear that the majority of Torontonians have parked their support with one of two candidates: Mr. [George] Smitherman or Mr. [Rob] Ford.” Decrying the anyone-but dynamic of the race, Rossi said, “I never wanted to run against anything. I wanted to run for Toronto.”
The abruptness of the decision was clear from both the looks on some people’s faces and the state of the campaign office, where computers still had open Word documents on them and campaign staff had been diligently working, presumably until about 7 p.m. or so.
And so, the Rossi campaign ends not with a bang but a whimper. The man who briefly looked like a serious challenger to Smitherman, riding on the anger over bike lanes of all things, is just walking away. Even this morning, as Rossi did his valedictory media tour, the question he is being asked is why he won’t endorse anyone. The thing is, the Ipsos Reid poll shows that these endorsements don’t seem to be doing much; David Miller endorsed Joe Pantalone last week, and it seems to have done precisely nothing. Frankly, Rossi might as well just save himself the trouble.