I salivate at the prospect of a Miller-Smitherman-Ford cage match
Who will run for mayor in November 2010? Most people don’t care, but the city’s political operatives, apparatchiks and henchmen—they keep a low profile these days, but they are many—definitely do. They are currently busy playing the angles and looking for the ideal candidate. Rob Ford, freshly exonerated…innocent, whatever terminology you want to use, of his domestic abuse case, said he was considering a run at the job. On Saturday, John Barber addressed the open rumours of a George Smitherman campaign, as well as Ford’s musings. What Barber forgot to say was: “Whee! Gird yourself for a mean and nasty fight.”
Remember the decency, the decorum and the genteel aura of the 2003 bid, a campaign of substance in which Miller, John Tory and Barbara Hall debated so gracefully? It seemed great at the time, but in hindsight the nicety of it all was terribly overrated. The one thing I can promise you is that in a mayoral race featuring Miller, Smitherman and Ford, the decorum nonsense will get tossed into a truck and dumped in a Michigan landfill.
Smitherman is a polarizing figure; he’s at his best when he’s being mischievous, and therein lies his peculiar brand of political charm. If he tried to portray himself as the guy who can rise above petty politics, no one would buy the act—the gleam in those beady little eyes of his would give him away. Meanwhile, do not underestimate Ford’s ability to get under his opponents’ skin. He knows how to do only one thing: pound away at the issue of fiscal waste. He keeps grinding that axe, and never seems to tire. He’s like a kid who just won’t stop asking annoyingly simplistic questions: the parents inevitably give in to their tempers. Ford will bring out the worst in everyone. Film at 11.
Miller might try to rise above it all, but it’s hard to overcome two terms’ worth of steadily decreasing expectations. Miller once embodied the city’s energy and ambition. These days, he seems to mumble a lot. After five years on the job, he doesn’t have much in the way of showy accomplishments, which is why he seems beatable—and which is also why Smitherman and Ford will not be his only challengers. The more the merrier. This city needs the adrenalin rush that comes from a good political fight.