The 2010 mayoral race has been blown wide open by David Miller's decision not to seek re-election, throwing into doubt the purported non-aggression pact between the leading candidates of the centre-right, opening the door for right-wing pretenders on council and leaving the left scrambling for a standard-bearer.
Deputy Premier George Smitherman, long rumoured to be eyeing the mayor's job, stayed out of the spotlight yesterday. His chief rival, John Tory, praised the mayor for his public service but made clear that people approach him daily to express their frustration with government at City Hall. While it was once assumed that only one would oppose Mr. Miller to avoid splitting the opposition vote, now both are likely to feature in a reconfigured campaign.
Many observers point out, however, that it is extremely difficult for an outsider to win a mayor's race in Toronto.
And some say Mr. Smitherman's position would also be very different in a race against Mr. Tory, where he would be painted as the downtown liberal rather than as a slightly more conservative alternative to Mr. Miller.
In his speech, the mayor called on his supporters to find a new progressive candidate to carry on the work he has begun.
"The next election will be hard fought. But if those with progressive values come together behind a new champion, work hard and fight hard, you can elect that champion," Mr. Miller said.
His allies yesterday struggled to come up with many convincing candidates, reflecting the widespread sense of shock that greeted his announcement.
Former Winnipeg mayor Glen Murray, now head of the Canadian Urban Institute, said yesterday that he has been approached to run and is mulling his options. Mr. Murray has lived in Toronto since 2004.
NDP MP Olivia Chow, a former city councillor, refused to say whether she was considering a run, replying "Good gosh, this is a David Miller day." Her husband, NDP Leader Jack Layton, flatly ruled himself out of the race, however.
Other names mentioned on the left include TTC chair Adam Giambrone, the youngest member of city council and a former NDP president, and former journalist Adam Vaughan. Mr. Giambrone declined to say whether he'd be interested, while Mr. Vaughan said he believes the next mayor should come from outside council's ranks.
The right wing of council has at least three potential candidates jockeying for position: Karen Stintz, Michael Thompson and Denzil Minnan-Wong. Ms. Stintz wouldn't say she would run but has already assembled a campaign committee.
With a report from Bill Curry
ACROSS THE POLITICAL SPECTRUM
The race to replace David Miller is wide open. The Globe looks at some potential candidates
A city councillor from 1991 to 2005 before being elected as NDP MP for Trinity-Spadina, Ms. Chow has strong support downtown. She initially backed Barbara Hall for mayor in 2003 rather than Mr. Miller and was frozen out of the inner circle, which prompted her jump to Ottawa. She didn't rule herself out of the race yesterday, saying only, "This is a David Miller day."
The councillor for Ward 18 Davenport is the youngest member of city council but holds one of its most powerful posts: chair of the TTC. He declined to say yesterday whether he plans to run.
"Today is really about what's been accomplished over the last six years. I've been proud to be a part of it. I think we really need to give the mayor his day. There will be plenty of time for campaigns in the 12 to 14 months following."
The federal NDP Leader was a long-time city councillor before jumping to the national scene, and ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Toronto in 1991.
Yesterday he said he wasn't interested in leaving federal politics.
"There's so much more to do in our effort to have Canadian values reflected in the governance of the country that I am fully, and 100 per cent, engaged. But I have no doubt there will be good people that come forward. I will not be one of them."
The former CityTV journalist was first elected to council in 2006 and has made a strong impression in his first term. He is the son of a former city councillor, and although he often votes with the mayor, he strives to be seen as an independent. He said he thinks the next mayor should come from outside city council, but if necessary a progressive candidate will have to be found.
"You can't get elected in this city unless you're progressive," he said.
"If the right candidate doesn't step forward from the city at large then we'll have to look to ourselves."
The city budget chief is often considered a candidate for mayor, but Ms. Carroll, who holds that post under Mayor Miller, didn't make her intentions known yesterday. A competent manager who is seen as centrist, she would make a strong candidate, according to fellow councillor Kyle Rae.
"History tells me the only people who win this job are insiders," Mr. Rae said. "I think she'd be a great candidate."
Michael (Pinball) Clemons
One of the CFL's all-time great football players and current vice-chair of the Toronto Argos, Mr. Clemons has been touted as a future political star. Although he's regarded as an electrifying speaker, Mr. Clemons's political philosophy remains a mystery. He came to the fore politically during the crisis of gang violence that gripped Toronto in the summer of 2005. He has since been asked many times about his political ambitions but has so far refused to take the plunge. One obstacle is that, although he has lived in Canada for 20 years, Mr. Clemons has yet to become a Canadian citizen. He does not live in Toronto.
A New Democrat before he was mayor of Winnipeg from 1998 to 2004, he resigned to run federally for the Liberals but lost in the 2004 election. He has lived in Toronto ever since and now heads the Canadian Urban Institute.
"A lot of people have been after me, as they have for a couple of months, to think about running," he said. "You've got to make sure you've got broad support from people and you've got to make sure you've got some money in place."
A former president of the University of Toronto and well-compensated executive at Torstar, Mr. Prichard now leads Metrolinx, the regional transport agency. Although long rumoured as a potential mayoral candidate, he unequivocally denied having any such ambition yesterday.
"If I wished to be mayor, I would feel absolutely obliged to resign as president of Metrolinx and I feel no desire to do that because I enjoy what I'm doing and I feel there are better-qualified candidates to be mayor."
One of the leaders of the right-wing group on city council, Mr. Minnan-Wong said he's still weighing his options. "I've been considering being a candidate. I've heard from Torontonians that the city needs a new direction and a different direction," he said. "You've got to think about the contribution you wish to make and how you wish to make it. There are other considerations that relate to practical arrangements: building a campaign, being able to raise sufficient funds to be a candidate. Those are all factors."
Another who has made no secret of her ambition to run for mayor, Ms. Stintz chose her words carefully yesterday.
"I think it's important that today be the Mayor's day, that we focus on him and thank him for his contribution to the city," she said.
She was a vitriolic opponent of the mayor's over the past year, but didn't take the opportunity of his announcement to promote her own campaign. A committee has been exploring the possibility of her candidacy for several months.
The councillor for Scarborough-Centre, Mr. Thompson made a name for himself initially as an anti-gang crusader. He has also aligned himself with the right-wing group on council.
"My position is still consistent, which is to look at the opportunity and to make a decision in the not-too-distant future. I think the field is an open field at this point, now that the incumbent is not there. There are other candidates vying for the opportunity - all good candidates, I'm sure. So it requires us to further evaluate what direction we're going to go."
Former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader John Tory ran for Toronto mayor in 2003. He has long been perceived as a contender in next year's race. "I think the key is the public wants to see some change. They want to see a city government that is competent. They want to see better services. They want to see better value for their tax dollars. They want to see more hope," he said yesterday. Mr. Tory is about to begin hosting an afternoon-drive radio show, giving him a platform to raise his profile.