Andray Domise, a business man and outspoken critic of the mayor and his brother Doug, has become a stalwart of the anti-Ford camp in recent years and is hoping to end a 14-year Ford family dynasty in the suburban ward.
Until Friday afternoon, Domise had been campaigning primarily against Mayor Ford’s 21-year-old nephew, Mike Ford, who registered to run for city council in Etobicoke North in July.
But the inexperienced Mike Ford has now withdrawn from the race, opting instead to run for school trustee in Ward 1, after Rob Ford himself withdrew his name from the mayoral ballot due to health concerns and revealed he would be running for city council in Ward 2.
Mayor Ford previously held Etobicoke North for three consecutive terms, and Doug Ford has represented the ward at city hall for the past four years.
Domise learned that he would be running against an incumbent mayor when his campaign manager sent him an email with a link to a news article confirming the switch, but said that his team had anticipated this scenario as a possibility from the beginning.
“I was a bit taken aback, but wasn’t incredibly shocked. We assumed we wouldn’t be running against Michael Ford, but would end up running against Rob Ford,” he told CBC News Network in an interview Friday.
Domise offered his well wishes to the mayor and his family, but said that when talking about the future of Ward 2 “we have to look at facts.”
“Ward 2 is one of the most underdeveloped neighbourhoods in Toronto: it’s transit deprived and there is a lack of recreation options,” he said.
The most recent polling data from Ward 2 showed Mike Ford comfortably ahead of Domise, and a Rob Ford candidacy would likely resonate with the voters who kept him in office for ten years as their representative before winning the mayoralty.
But Domise said his campaign won’t deviate heading into the Oct. 27 election.
“We are running the same campaign today as we were yesterday,” he said, comparing Rob Ford’s alleged absence in the neighbourhood over the past several years to Mike Ford’s unusually aloof campaign. The latter has not done any media interviews since announcing his candidacy in July and didn’t set up a website online.
Domise said he’s essentially been campaigning against “a family name” rather than a substantive political rival, and questioned in the mayor would be healthy enough to campaign in the neighbourhood in the next six weeks.
“If he can’t come back and knock on doors and talk to the residents about how to do the things he failed to do in council previously, I wonder if they’re going to take him back,” Domise said.
If recent history is worth consideration, however, Domise has a tough road ahead as he tries to overcome a Ford ‘family fiefdom’ in Etobicoke North, said Ronald Kanter a municipal lawyer and former city councillor.