Olivia Chow to join shark-infested waters with formal entry into Toronto mayoral race

Matthew Coutts
Daily Brew
Olivia Chow to join shark-infested waters with formal entry into Toronto mayoral race

Hopefully Olivia Chow can swim, because she's jumping into shark-infested waters with the reported news that she will formally enter the Toronto mayoral race this week.

The Canadian Press reported late Tuesday that Chow, a New Democrat MP, would resign her seat in Parliament today and officially kick of her campaign on Thursday.

Chow has been dipping her toe into the race for months, openly musing about a possible run without confirming much of anything. Senior members of her "team" recently told the Toronto Star she would announce a run the week of March 17. This new report would put her candidacy slightly ahead of that timeline.

Chow will be entering a top-heavy contest with several competitive candidates, few of whom will be excited by the news of her impending arrival.

While she will become the only legitimate left-of-centre candidate in a field of conservative options, polls have suggested she will cut into the support of several conservative candidates, and a campaign director told the Canadian Press she will also appeal to non-nonsense voters who previously backed troubled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

Perhaps the man who should be most concerned in former PC leader and radio host John Tory, who polls suggest has the most to lose with Chow’s entry into the race.

[ Related: Olivia Chow to resign as New Democrat MP, launch Toronto mayoral bid ]

His campaign manager, Nick Kouvalis, has been targeting Chow for days leading up to the expected announcement, specifically over an MP informational mailout she recently sent to Toronto residents. Chow's federal riding is the downtown Trinity-Spadina neighbourhood.

[ Political Points: Critics question Olivia Chow's taxpayer-funded mailers ahead of possible mayoral bid ]

Along with Ford and Tory, Chow is entering a race where conservative councillor Karen Stintz and former councillor David Soknacki are projected to grab a decent slice of voters on October 27.

Results from a February Forum Research poll found Chow and Ford tied at 31 per cent support, with Tory at 27 per cent. Stintz sat with six per cent and Soknacki had two per cent.

Without Chow in the race, Tory jumped out in front with 39 per cent support, with Stintz at 15 per cent. Ford received 33 per cent, suggesting his support base would be least affected by Chow's announcement.

Coun. Doug Ford, who is the acting campaign manager of his brother's re-election campaign, told the Toronto Sun that they welcomed Chow to the race.

"I’ll walk her right to the polls myself. She’ll take eight to 10 points off Tory overnight and she’s not going to take one point off of Rob. I want to get her in," he told the Sun's Don Peat.

Chow is expected to run a campaign focused on her personal history as the daughter in a low-income immigrant family. She recently released an autobiography titled "My Journey," and has been promoting it across the country.

But she may want to be prepared to get her hands dirty. Few of her opponents will be welcoming her as warmly as Doug Ford pretends to be.

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