Where are they now? Catching up with Toronto’s former mayoral candidates

Where are they now? Catching up with Toronto’s former mayoral candidates

As Rocco Rossi reminded us with his surprise announcement last week, the candidates of the 2010 mayoral race, who so preoccupied Toronto’s politics watchers for nearly a year, have moved on to other things. So what have the five former frontrunners been doing since election day? Here, a quick visit with each of them.

Rocco Rossi
After saying that he might spend some time in the private, but civic-minded, part of the economy, this high-ranking Liberal fundraiser decided instead to run for the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario in Eglinton-Lawrence. Speaking with The Informer this morning, Rossi says he faced some tough personal decisions and had to answer the concerns of his wife, who now has to watch him run in a second year-long election campaign. (Note to candidate Rossi: Valentine’s Day is one week from today.) Rossi spent the mayoral election bringing up ideas few other candidates were talking about—for better or worse—and will now have to restrain himself and learn the Tory talking points for the next eight months. “It’s been a tough week,” says Rossi about jumping parties, “but for every Liberal who’s dropped me on Facebook I’ve gained two Conservatives.” That’s a fitting metric: Rossi always was the tech-geekiest of the candidates.

(Image: Rocco Rossi)

Sarah Thomson
The only female frontrunner in the mayoral race (who had to remind the press to drop the “p” from her last name at least until June), is also being approached by the provincial parties for the coming election, though she’s denied a Toronto Star report that she’d agreed to run for the Liberals in Parkdale-High Park. Meanwhile, she’s involved in some kind of cultural organization called StudioTO and gotten into a minor fight with Rocco Rossi over money: since he switched parties, she says donors want to give the lucre to her instead of him. Rossi says rules forbid him giving her the money.

(Image: Tsar Kasim)

Joe Pantalone
Allegedly being headhunted by the NDP to run either provincially or federally (the National Post quotes Pantalone: “I am not one who switches parties as easily as I change my underwear… unlike some other people”), Joe Pantalone is keeping a lower profile than the other former candidates, and says he’s unlikely to rejoin politics. One good reason not to: at this rate, if Rossi, Thomson and Pantalone all join the provincial fray, Toronto’s press will probably just recycle half the copy they printed last year.

(Image: Tania Liu)

George Smitherman
Like Pantalone, Smitherman says he’s not currently planning to get back into electoral politics. (He did spend this weekend in Ottawa for the Ontario Liberal Provincial Policy Convention, so he hasn’t gone cold turkey.)  He’s focusing on raising his son while his husband works full time. Occasionally, when John Tory calls in sick, Smitherman takes over at Newstalk 1010 during the evening rush hour. His debut went all right, though he did occasionally talk so quickly it sounded like he’d evolved past the human need for oxygen.

(Image: Shaun Merritt)

Rob Ford
After getting elected mayor of Toronto, Ford took some time off but came back with a bang: he got Don Cherry at his swearing in (where he insulted everyone in council that Ford couldn’t), then rode some of his biggest campaign promises through the first meeting of council. The mayor has proceeded to gut his predecessor’s transit plan and, in what we assume is a victory lap, declared war on the plastic bag fee. The latest news from the mayor’s office is that he’s having some problems managing the tempers in there (with security escorting staff out of the building and whatnot) and there’s constant rumbling that his brother Doug Ford is the power behind the scenes. Otherwise it’s been smooth sailing for the Captain of SS Respect for Taxpayers, even as reporters exhausted all possible “gravy” and “train” metaphors by January.

(Image: City of Toronto)