Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was admitted to hospital Wednesday after doctors found what they believe to be a tumour in his abdomen, raising the possibility that he will be forced to withdraw his name from the Oct. 27 mayoralty ballot to focus on his health.
Should Ford opt to leave the election race, what is to become of his campaign and the immensely influential voter bloc that is Ford Nation?
Under most circumstances, the answer would be straightforward: Ford withdraws, and the two other remaining contenders, John Tory and Olivia Chow, go head-to-head.
But Ford Nation still has a potential hope in the mayor’s older brother, Coun. Doug Ford, who has until Friday at 2 p.m. ET to register as a candidate. While the latter could not formally replace the former as part of the same campaign, a Doug Ford candidacy would likely be the de facto alternative for loyal Ford voters.
The mayor’s campaign has seen a resurgence in recent polls, overtaking Chow as the second-place contender going into the last six weeks of the campaign, and his brother could take the flag and continue Ford Nation’s charge.
“I could certainly see it happening,” said John Mascarin, an attorney specializing in municipal law and an adjunct professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto.
“I would have said that it would take a pretty extraordinary event for Doug to jump into the campaign, and this is a potentially extraordinary event. He has the Ford name, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he thought, ‘I have to keep the Ford name in this race.'”