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I decided to take the current wikipedia page for the 2010 Toronto Municipal Election and rate the candidates they have listed. This, is what I came up with.
You will notice two "F"s. One candidate is the former last placed candidate. When I ran in the 2006 Toronto Municipal Election in Ward 19 I was able to win 511 votes in just the ward, while he did not top 200 city wide. For this reason I do not consider him a serious candidate to win. Another F on the table is "Pinball Clemons" who is not a Canadian, and therefore cannot run.
One thing that stands out is the large number of NDPers who may try to replace current mayor David Miller (also of the NDP). Many people think of Toronto as a large "NDP" municipal entity, but the reality is that Toronto has only ever had three real "NDP" mayors. John Sewell, Barbara Hall (who since has become a Liberal), and David Miller (who has been publicly supporting the Green Party recently). NDPers have much more luck getting elected to council. Due to the very crowded NDP field, some candidates, like Olivia Chow, may decide not to run at all, and this is exactly what I project her to do. Frances Lankin, while known, is not as high profile as some of the other NDP candidates. Mammoliti and even Nash suffer from this as well. The one thing the NDP has been known for is running a single candidate, and if Pantalone and/or Giambrone run, there will be great pressure on these two to drop out of the race.
On the right, Rob Ford gets a low rating because his politics is more in line with the former Canadian Alliance party, which never came close to winning even a single seat in Toronto. Denzil Minnan-Wong, while to the right of the remaining candidates, has done quite a bit of work to position himself as the unofficial "Opposition Leader" to David Miller, and that may pay off. Micheal Thompson, while not as politically astute as Minnan-Wong, is African-Canadian, and may try to tap into that voter bloc. Thompson, as well, is from Scarborough, while all the other remaining serious candidates are from either the former city of Toronto, or North York.
For the Liberals, we have a trio of candidates. Rosco Rossi has positioned himself as the "Official" Liberal Candidate, and that is very clear. This is similar to 06 when Stephen LeDrew, fresh off being the President of the Federal Liberal Party ran for mayor. While LeDrew finished with less than 2% of the vote, he did finish third. Rossi will make all the lists the media makes, and will be interviewed quite often. He could well count on 5% of the vote, but getting beyond that will be difficult. He will vacuum up all the voters looking for a grit to park their ballot with, and as a result, may harm fellow Liberal Shelly Carrol's chances. With more left of centre candidates running than right of centre candidates, Carrol could be squeezed out, and with bigger names putting their names into the hat, I don't foresee her pulling off a victory.
The final two candidates are Liberal George Smitherman and Tory John Tory (that was not a pun). The Media have decided these are the two front runners and so, as we enter the election, they are. This does not mean either of them will win. Remember that the last Federal Liberal leadership race was between Rate and Iggy, and Dion won. In Alberta, the former "third placed" candidate for the PC Party leadership is now the Premier. With such a crowded field, there is no guarantee either of these two will win.
A closer analysis of the "serious" candidates is included below.
What we end up with is the following list.
George Smitherman - Liberal
John Tory - PC
Joe Pantalone - NDP
Denzil Minnan-Wong - Conservative
Adam Giambrone - NDP
Michael Thompson - PC
Lets go one by one.
Pantalone has been in municipal politics for 25 years, and is the most experienced on the list. As David Miller's Deputy Mayor, he could be seen as the "successor" to Miller's legacy, for better or for worse. Pantalone comes across as one of the "Scary NDP" types that the right-wingers branded David Miller as. He had the highest council expense tab, but countered saying his assistants have followed him though the years and are very experienced. After 25 years, one could call him a career politician. Pantalone has the best chances of getting the unofficial NDP nod, and the other players would hope he does. He is a known quantity, and there would not be the need to "dig up dirt" on him, or invent new attack lines - the old and existing ones will work fine. Pantalone's attitude towards his job seems very similar to Miller's and as such a Pantalone victory would be more "business as usual" with regard to how Toronto has been run over the past 7 years.
Adam Giambrone is 33. Despite this relatively young age, he has managed to serve as federal New Democratic Party President, and is currently the chair of the TTC, the largest transit system in the country. Giambrone has taken his work very seriously, and has been able to remain relatively "clean", though he has had his run ins with trouble. In 2009 he sent an e-mail to a Councillor from a neighboring ward warning him to steer clear of his business. Giambrone is on the up, unlike Pantalone who is looking to put a cap on his career. A successful run for Mayor followed by a successful term could lead to the leadership of the Federal New Democrats, Provincial New Democrats, or should the province return to old voting trends, the Premier's chair. Giambrone may run regardless of what Pantalone does, and if he does he could pose a threat to the Conservatives and Liberals as he is much harder to attack. Giambrone is clearly viewed as the most pro transit of the candidates.
Michael Thompson is the city Councillor perhaps best known for suggesting that Toronto Police should be able to stop black teenagers in black neighborhoods looking for guns. Making the comment more notable is the fact that Thompson is himself black. Thompson is the least known of the others on the short list but his name does appear in the newspapers. Quite often the media will come to him for comment, or note that he is one of a group of Councillors doing something. When asked, however, most Torontonians likely could not tell you much about Michael Thompson. This lack of information can serve him well. Being the only major candidate for Mayor from Scarborough since the mega city was created over a decade ago could garner him votes from that part of the city. Being a visible minority may garner him votes from that minority, despite the fact that his tough law-and-order stances are often out of line with the city as a whole. Thompson is also not as politically astute as the others, and he may yet prove to have a Mel Lastman like tendency to speak off the cuff and get himself in hot water.
Denzil Minnan-Wong is the most right wing person on the short list. More than that, Minnan-Wong is right wing in a way that separates him from past "right wingers". Stephen Harper recently commented that he does not wish to cut transfers to persons or province, but rather, wants to cut salaries of government workers. It is this 'new right' sort of thinking that Minnan-Wong shows in his policies. Minnan-Wong focuses on tax cuts and cutting the 'gunk' out of city government. Over the past three years, Minnan-Wong has done everything in his power to become the visible opposition leader to David Miller. While right wing, Minnan-Wong is not exactly the same kind of "right wing" that tends to scare urban voters. He focuses on talking about tax cuts, not service cuts, on streamlining departments, not eliminating them. Despite this, if elected Minnan-Wong would be the most right wing mayor Toronto has had in the modern era. With solid ideas and a clear direction, Minnan-Wong is least likely to be lead around by City Council, and is the most likely to conflict with it. He comes across as the "Change" Candidate. Weather or not Toronto wants the kind of change he brings remains to be seen.
George Smitherman is gay. That is one of the first things that people will tell you about him. He also used to be Deputy Premier, Miniter of Health, and the Minister of Energy. Unfortunately, he was Deputy Premier when the HST was proposed, Miniter of Health during the C. Difficile issue, and Minister in charge of the OLG during it's recently scandals. Smitherman lies on the left of the Liberal party, and this has often put him at odds with Dalton McGunity, who lies on the right. Smitherman's biggest problem, perhaps, is that he has a tendency to come across as a little 'slick'. When the scandals of the past are taken into account, Smitherman can appear to be 'one of those Politicians only out for himself'. While this will not put him down against Tory or Patnalone, it could hurt his chances of the race boils down to Smitherman vs Giambrone, Thompson, or Minnan-Wong. Currently, Smitherman can be considered the "Front Runner".
John Tory is running again. Perhaps best known for losing, he has lost the 2007 provincial election and the 2003 municipal election. Tory currently hosts a radio show and the idea of losing yet again may push him not to run. My gut says he will, with such a crowded field he could squeak in even on a quarter of the vote. Tory is the most centrist of the candidates, but in recent years has appeared to drift to the right. Tory is known for his rivalry, real or imagined, with George Smitherman. Much as Smitherman appears as a "politician" so does Tory. Tory is a very well known quantity, and likely has more name recognition than any other candidate. Tory is also perhaps the only candidate who's endorsement could be very important. Mayoral elections in Toronto usually boil down in one of three ways. PC vs NDP. Liberal VS NDP. Or PC VS Liberal. Smitherman, endorsement or no endorsement, will lead the Liberals. Pantalone and Giambrone are well known as NDPers, an endorsement from one of the other will mean little. Even a Smitherman endorsement of some other Liberal will likely mean naught as we would likely head to a PC vs NDP race. Should Tory endorse either Minnan-Wong or Thompson, however, it would vault that candidate into a clear second place against Smitherman. Win or not, John Tory will have the most impact on the race.
To review, in summary, we have four groups of three.
Right Wingers: Minnan-Wong, Tory, Thompson
Left Wingers: Smitherman, Giambrone, Pantalone
Reformers: Giambrone, Minnan-Wong, Thompson
Politicians: Pantalone, Smitherman, Tory
So, where will the chips fall at the end of the day? Toronto has a history of electing Reformers to office, but at the same time the current top three candidates are all very "politician" like. My gut says that the Thompson campaign will fall by the wayside as things go on, and that Giambrone may not even run. If this is the case, it could well be a real four man race to the finish line, with Tory, Smitherman, Pantalone, and Minnan-Wong each having a good chance of winning, each representing one of the four main parties (with the federal and provincial Tories seen as different). Together, I project they would clear 85% of the vote, and that the winner may end up with a final total of 30%. I also see that there could be changes to the way Toronto elects its Mayors if this does happen, especially if Minnan-Wong wins.
All that being said, remember that a week is an eternity in politics. Things will happen between now and the election on October 25th that we just don't know yet. Which lesser candidates run and drop can also have a major impact on the final result. We will keep an eye on what is going on and keep you up to date.