Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Olivia Chow to resign as MP, launch Toronto mayoral bid

TORONTO - Olivia Chow —one of Mayor Rob Ford’s biggest challengers — will enter the mayor’s race Thursday.

A source told the Toronto Sun that Chow will announce her campaign one day after the Trinity-Spadina MP resigns her seat in the House of Commons.

She will join a crowded field of frontrunners including Ford, John Tory, Karen Stintz and David Soknacki, although Chow appears to be the only NDP candidate taking the field.

Chow’s return to municipal politics had been much rumoured in the lead-up to the 2014 election. The left-wing former councillor and widow of former federal NDP leader Jack Layton has done well in the polls against Ford over the past several months as he’s battled his crack cocaine scandal.

Although her entry into the race has been predicted for months, Chow had remained coy about whether she would run despite the fact supporters have been preparing the infrastructure of a campaign. This week’s announcement comes as she wraps up the book tour for her autobiography, My Journey.

A source close to Chow’s campaign speaking on background last month as Stintz and Tory joined the mayor’s race was optimistic their candidate would appeal to voters.

Chow organizers believe Tory will appear “too elite and too out of touch” to voters and many, particularly working women, have already left the Ford camp.

The Chow campaign is expected to “lead heavily with her personal story and her personal experience.”

“She learned the value of the dollar the hard way and it was a struggle and she takes that same approach to politics,” the source said at the time.

Just last week Chow was still refusing to confirm she would run.

“We do need a new mayor, no doubt about that,” she said, adding, “I certainly don’t want Rob Ford to be a role model for my grandchildren.”

On Monday, Ford’s campaign manager Councillor Doug Ford dismissed polls showing Chow could beat the mayor on his home turf of Etobicoke.

“I don’t know what they’ve been smoking,” he told the Sun.

Doug Ford also welcomed the idea of a Chow candidacy.

“I’ll walk her right to the polls myself,” he said. “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.

“I never underestimate anyone but George Smitherman was known as the frontrunner too. We look forward to getting the real people out to vote.”
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