NEWS
09/10/2014 09:45 EDT | Updated 11/10/2014 05:59 EST

What David Soknacki's exit means for Toronto mayor's race

David Soknacki, who bowed out of the Toronto mayoral race yesterday, had an influence on the campaign that went well above what his low polling numbers would suggest, a city hall watcher told Metro Morning on Wednesday.

The former councillor's departure leaves a field of three top contenders, including former NDP MP Olivia Chow, incumbent Mayor Rob Ford and former Progressive Conservative leader John Tory.

Torontoist editor-in-chief Hamutal Dotan said Soknacki's deep policy knowledge forced his opponents to address issues they might otherwise be able to ignore.

"He was very, very good for the race," she told host Matt Galloway. "He brought a certain kind of heft and experience that increased the tenor of the debate … because he was so policy-oriented."

She said Soknacki's ideas about economic development and ways to curtail the police budget added breadth to the campaign, even though his polling numbers remained stuck at single digits. In announcing he was pulling out, the former budget chief his support was not rising fast enough to make a difference ahead of the Oct. 27 vote.

Dotan said David Miller was able to move from single-digit support to the mayor's chair back in 2003 because his policy prowess was matched by a charisma that Soknacki lacks.

"Soknacki has always been the guy the policy wonks gravitated to but he never really mastered the skill of walking into a room and energizing it," said Dotan.

Dotan also rejected suggestions that a lack of media attention is what doomed Soknacki's mayoralty bid.

"I don't buy that. He got a lot of stories. Journalists wanted to give him as much of a chance as possible," she said. "There was no shortage of stories about Soknacki and on his proposals. He got more attention than most candidates polling at three or four per cent would get."  

With Soknacki out, Dotan said the differences between the remaining top three contenders will become clearer to voters.

Soknacki plans to address the media Wednesday at 1 p.m. to talk further about his reasons for leaving the race for mayor.

Soknacki wasn't the only mayoral candidate to quit the race on Tuesday. Sarah Thomson also dropped out, but will seek a council seat in Ward 20.