5 Reasons Rob Ford Might Win Toronto Mayor Re-Election
We'd hoped Rob Ford would quietly disappear now – but the sort-of mayor of Toronto, who embarrassed North America and monopolized headlines for his shenanigans in 2013, is far from done. On Thursday, Ford announced his bid to run for re-election this year, and that's not the weirdest part: He might actually win.
Ford filed his re-election papers Thursday morning, calling himself "the best mayor that this city’s ever had" and asking voters for "Ford More Years." Councillor Doug Ford, his brother, will run the campaign. What could possibly go wrong?
Well. You might remember that back in November, Ford told reporters he had smoked crack cocaine, "probably in one of my drunken stupors." After that, videos emerged showing Ford lurching around and threatening "first-degree murder," leaving North America mortified and Toronto councilmembers begging Ford to step down.
But Ford refused. After that, more of the mayor's antics included pushing down a councilwoman and a cringeworthy declaration that he's "got more than enough to eat at home" when asked about oral sex allegations. Ford was forcibly stripped of most of his mayoral powers shortly afterward, though he still holds the official title.
Ford's spokesman, Dennis Morris, is quite confident about a victory on Oct. 27 this year, calling the mayor's re-election chances "excellent." Morris explained that Ford has been rehabilitating himself for the past several weeks:
What reason is there for him to step aside? I’m not really sure because I don’t think there’s any precedent that anybody must step aside. What if he said, 'I overindulged in alcohol?' Is it because alcohol’s legal, crack cocaine isn’t? I don’t really know.
Hm, solid reasoning. But the bid is so crazy that it might just work, and here's why.
Ford has a loyal fan base
Rob Ford supporters, the "Ford Nation," are loud and proud. At an annual New Year's gathering, people lined up to shake hands and snap selfies with him, with one woman holding up a shirt emblazoned with the words "I am a die hard Rob Ford fan!"
Various web sites, including a Facebook page, I Hate The War on Mayor Rob Ford , are steadily updated with links and call-outs against Ford haters.
Plus, he's a gift to journalists everywhere. Do you even know who the other candidates for Toronto mayor are? Didn't think so. (FYI, one is this lady.)
Ford has an approval rating on par with President Obama
Well, this one's gotta burn a bit for Barack. Despite his position as a Chris Farley-lookalike lame duck, Ford's approval ratings have stayed pretty consistent at about 41-45 percent. In fact, during the height of the crack-smoking controversy, Ford's approval rating was actually higher than Obama's — 42 to 41 percent, respectively.
And Ford's rating actually jumped slightly after his confession, indicating that Toronto residents are either really open about drug use or that there are a lot of jokesters in the city.
Small businesses are cool with him
Ford was elected partly because the blunt mayor appealed to the everyman, promising to "Stop the Gravy Train" of government expenses. Under his administration, Toronto unemployment saw a fair decrease from 9.6 to 7.8 percent (though it then jumped back up to 8.6 percent.) He's picked up support from working and middle-class voters, as well as the young business elite.
As one hairstylist from Ford's hometown said: "He did what he said he was going to do, and I don't care what he does in his spare time."
And Toronto still has problems that need to be solved, as David Sax at Bloomberg Businessweek explains.
The current political stasis will make it difficult to work through long-needed solutions to the city’s crippling transit infrastructure, waterfront redevelopment, and public housing, which would invariably affect the quality of city life, the ability to attract talent, and Toronto’s coveted reputation as a global cultural and economic hub.
Ford still has a ton of willing voters
There are 2.8 million people in Toronto, making it the fourth-largest city in North America. Not too shabby. And nearly 40 percent of voters in a December poll said they'd consider voting for him again. Much of Ford's political base is low-income: People who make less than $40,000 are twice as likely to support him.
Residents at a community housing complex were particularly effusive about the mayor, saying that Ford hangs out around there all the time, cleaned up graffiti in the area, and listens to their concerns (even though his actual policies are not, actually, very supportive of low-income people.)
“I love the mayor,” says Toronto resident Lily Burke. “I love him for who he is and what he’s done for this community.”
Truly a man of the people, right?
He beat Hulk Hogan in arm-wrestling
That's got to count for something.