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Toronto Political strategist Nick Kouvalis arrested for drunk driving

Nick Kouvalis at the Liberty Grand where John Tory was holding an election party on Oct 27, 2014.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

The political strategist who helped elect Rob Ford as Toronto mayor has been arrested for drunk driving and vowed on social media to seek help for alcoholism.

Nick Kouvalis was arrested early Monday morning after crashing his grey Lexus in Tecumseh, Ont., the Windsor Star reported. No one was injured in the accident. Mr. Kouvalis did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Kouvalis came to prominence during Toronto's 2010 mayoral election when he led Mr. Ford's insurgent campaign and defied expectations by guiding the populist city councillor to victory. Mr. Kouvalis left the mayor's office after a brief stint as chief of staff before Mr. Ford's substance abuse came to light.

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More recently, he was chief strategist on John Tory's successful bid to replace Mr. Ford as mayor.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Tory, Amanda Galbraith, sent The Globe and Mail an e-mailed statement: "Mr. Kouvalis has acknowledged he has personal issues that he is dealing with. The Mayor wishes him well as he works towards recovery."

On Monday, the conservative campaign guru wrote on Twitter that he has suffered from "alcohol addiction" since 2011, has been attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and spent time in rehab.

In reference to the car crash, he added: "I am grateful I have received this timely wake-up call and look forward to starting my journey to permanent sobriety."

A controversial figure in city politics for his role in vaulting Mr. Ford to power, Mr. Kouvalis has enjoyed a remarkable string of political victories over the years. In addition to the two most recent mayoral elections in Toronto, he worked on the B.C. Liberals' come-from-behind 2013 election win.

Despite being well-regarded as a strategist, Mr. Kouvalis's reputation has been shadowed by perceptions of impropriety. In 2011, a professional body investigated his firm's role in "robocalls" to the Montreal riding of then-MP Irwin Cotler suggesting that the long-time Liberal was resigning.

In 2005, meanwhile, he was charged with uttering a death threat against former MP Jeff Watson while working for a Conservative candidate in Windsor-Tecumseh, before being acquitted in 2007.

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Nectarios Kouvalis (his legal name) is scheduled to appear in court on May 4 on the impaired driving charge.

With files from reporter Jeff Gray.

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