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Former Ontario Premier Bill Davis shakes hands with PC leadership candidate Christine Elliott in Toronto on Saturday November 8, 2014.Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

The race to replace former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak launched in earnest today with an endorsement from former premier Bill Davis.

Christine Elliott scored the nod from the Tory titan, who helped her open her campaign office.

Davis says he knows Elliott and knew her late husband, former federal finance minister Jim Flaherty, very well.

He says Elliott is dedicated to helping less fortunate people.

In a speech that was part stand-up comedy, part endorsement, the 85-year-old former premier said he wouldn't "take any shots at the other possible candidates."

Davis did later add that he would be surprised if Doug Ford, brother of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, entered the race.

Ford has said he is considering throwing his hat into the ring.

Four other candidates have declared their intention to run for the leadership, but today marks the first day they can file their nominations for the May leadership vote.