Councillor Rob Ford is getting serious about a potential mayoralty run, going so far as to pay for an internal poll that puts him in third place.
He's even getting into racing shape: Mr. Ford has hired a personal trainer and has worked out eight times in the past two weeks.
"I definitely want to do it," Mr. Ford said yesterday. "I know I have the experience to be the best mayor Toronto's ever had."
However, Mr. Ford said he needs time to finish assembling a team, resolve some personal issues and get a better handle on his chances before making his final decision.
That's why the Etobicoke councillor paid $5,000 for a Logistics Group poll, the results of which he received Friday.
The poll puts former deputy premier George Smitherman way out in front with 46 per cent of decided voters, TTC chair Adam Giambrone, who formally joins the race today, in second with 17 per cent, and Mr. Ford in third with 13 per cent. Mr. Ford leads declared candidates Joe Pantalone, Rocco Rossi and Giorgio Mammoliti, according to the poll.
Mr. Ford was surprised to see Mr. Smitherman polling ahead of him in Etobicoke, where Mr. Ford is a popular local councillor best known for railing against spending at City Hall. The poll suggests Mr. Smitherman enjoys the backing of 33 per cent of decided voters there, compared to 27 per cent for Mr. Ford.
But Mr. Ford wasn't surprised that he polled miserably in the old city of Toronto, where he's long been a bugbear of the left.
"I'm getting killed downtown," he said.
However, the poll's sample size in individual districts is so small it's difficult to draw conclusions. Logistics Group polled 500 people who voted in the last municipal election by phone Jan. 21 to Jan. 23. The margin of error for the citywide portion of the poll is plus or minus four points, 19 times out of 20.
First elected in 2000, Mr. Ford is known for his populist, penny-pinching style and for a string of gaffes, including a drunken, belligerent turn at a Leafs game, which he initially denied, but later apologized for.
Mr. Ford's entry would certainly shake up the race, especially on the right.
"Obviously you can't wait too long," Mr. Ford answered when asked how long he'll take to make up his mind. "You've got to be ready to go, probably by March at the latest."