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Rocco Rossi announces his withdrawal from the Toronto mayoral race on Oct. 13, 2010. (Fred Lum/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)
Rocco Rossi announces his withdrawal from the Toronto mayoral race on Oct. 13, 2010. (Fred Lum/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

Will Rocco Rossi's campaign have a sequel? Add to ...

Just after Rocco Rossi announced he was pulling out of the race for Toronto mayor, someone suggested that the former national director of the Liberal Party of Canada should run for the upcoming federal by-election in Vaughan, Ont.

Mr. Rossi, 48, resigned Wednesday night after the release of an Ipsos-Reid poll that showed him way behind front-running candidates, George Smitherman and Rob Ford. "The Ipsos poll, despite the small sample, made it pretty difficult to carry on as if nothing had changed," a senior Rossi campaign strategist told The Globe. "The race had polarized. ... There wasn't much room left for us."

The strategist described his former candidate as "serene," adding that Mr. Rossi "saw where it had been going for the past couple of weeks."

So what is next for Mr. Rossi? And what about the Vaughan by-election?

There is no sign of a Liberal candidate in the riding recently vacated by long-time MP and former cabinet minister Maurizio Bevilacqua, who stepped down to run for Vaughan mayor.

The speculation is the by-election will be called very soon, especially now that the Conservatives appear to have a star candidate. Former Toronto police chief and former Ontario Provincial Police commissioner Julian Fantino announced this week he is seeking the nomination; it is expected he will be acclaimed as the Tory contender.

The Liberal strategist, however, says it's much too soon for Mr. Rossi to jump into a federal race. But the door remains open to an eventual bid for a seat in the Ontario legislature.

"There's lots of buzz about him at all levels," the strategist said. "But the by-election comes too soon. What makes the most sense for Rocco is running for the McGuinty Liberals. He'd have an excellent shot at a cabinet spot, too."

Mr. Rossi got himself better known during the Toronto campaign. That would certainly help him in any future bid. "I just hope we haven't seen the last of him as a candidate," the strategist adds.

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