After Doug Ford entered the Toronto mayoral race with just six weeks remaining until the election, many city hall watchers expected the brash councillor and brother of Mayor Rob Ford to come out of the gates swinging. Instead, on his first official day as a candidate on Monday, the usually outspoken Mr. Ford was nowhere to be found.
Despite a flurry of campaign events – three mayoral debates on the weekend and Monday – Mr. Ford has not made a public appearance since his dramatic announcement last Friday that he is running in place of the ailing Mayor Ford, postponing this week's Ford Fest, a community barbecue held by his family.
In a text message on Monday, Rob Ford's campaign spokesman said Doug Ford had "nothing planned at the moment."
And although he told reporters last week his focus is on his brother in hospital and that he is not yet in "full campaign mode," his absence has been giving front runners John Tory and Olivia Chow ample opportunity to get out their own messages, and to attack him.
With just six weeks to go, Mr. Ford will have to put together a campaign platform, a strategy, and a team of workers.
Veteran campaign strategists say the late entry actually may be an advantage in one area: fundraising.
Since launching their campaigns in early spring, Mr. Tory and Ms. Chow have had many months to raise money, although this means they have spent a lot of it, too.
But if Doug Ford can raise the full amount, he will be able to spend up to the $1.3-million limit in the crucial final stretch.
"Many a campaign has blown a lot of their money before the home stretch, and find themselves at an extraordinary disadvantage," said Richard Joy, who was director of operations on Barbara Hall's campaign in 2003.
Mr. Joy, now executive director of the non-partisan Urban Land Institute Toronto, said that by Labour Day, campaigns have often spent half their money on things like office space and salaries.
And while Ralph Lean, chair of fundraising for George Smitherman's campaign in 2010, said Mr. Ford may have trouble finding donors so late, he also predicted he would need fewer of them.
"With the Fords, you have to throw out everything you need to know in politics," he said, adding that the international attention the mayor has drawn means his brother likely will not have to spend as much on advertising.
Mr. Lean said that to fund the campaign until Oct. 27 – without major advertising – Mr. Ford will likely need at least $500,000.
And with the personal wealth of the family, he said, Mr. Ford could bankroll the entire amount. The provincial elections act does not restrict how much candidates can contribute, so long as spending remains under the limit.
Some potential donors await Mr. Ford's performance in the polls before opening their wallets, Mr. Lean said. Others may be reluctant if they have already donated to Rob's campaign.
Now that Rob Ford is out of the mayoral race, his campaign money will be frozen, and cannot be easily transferred to Doug. If he wants to use the same materials such as signs, Doug must buy them from his brother's campaign.
In 2010, Rob Ford spent just under $1.29-million – with about $1-million of that coming from contributions – and still went about $800,000 into debt.
Tory campaign co-chair Bob Richardson said he expects to raise $2-million by election day (some spending, including holding fundraising events, is not subject to the $1.3-million limit). He declined to disclose how much has already been spent.
And a spokesperson for Ms. Chow declined to disclose how much has been raised, saying only that spending will be at "the allowable limit."