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Toronto Tory and Chow camps see Doug Ford as easier to beat

Mayoral candidates Olivia Chow and John Tory square off in a debate hosted by the Ontario Home Builders Association in Toronto, Ontario, Friday, September 12, 2014.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

Doug Ford's decision to run in brother Rob's place for the job of Toronto's chief magistrate marks a dramatic shift in the dynamic of the mayor's race – a development that both the John Tory and Olivia Chow campaigns are claiming will boost their own chances of winning.

Publicly, Mr. Tory and Ms. Chow have both said that they will not significantly change their strategy in running against Doug, as opposed to Rob Ford. But sources on both campaigns say they see the elder Ford – an outspoken councillor and staunch defender of the mayor's – as the easier one to beat in the October election.

After offering the ailing mayor his best wishes, Mr. Tory wasted no time slamming Doug at a news conference at his campaign office Friday, accusing both Fords of being "cut from the same cloth."

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"Doug Ford, who is now a candidate for mayor, has repeatedly put down the members of city council who were his colleagues, and he has publicly disparaged the premier of this province and members of her cabinet," Mr. Tory said. "I don't think Doug Ford offers four more years of the same. In fact, he may offer Toronto something that is worse."

And although Mr. Tory said he will not change his approach to run against Doug Ford, a source on the Tory campaign called Doug's entry into the race a "very positive development."

"Doug Ford is not Rob Ford, and he's not liked in the same manner that Rob Ford is," the source said. "He's not as politically skilled as Rob Ford is."

The same source also called it a "huge problem" for Ms. Chow, after recent polls have shown her support dwindling in third place. "For Chow to get back on track, they needed a one-on-one with us in the rink," he said.

At a debate Friday morning – the first in which Ms. Chow and Mr. Tory have gone head-to-head without any other candidates present – Ms. Chow appeared more confident than she has in recent months, landing several attacks on the front-runner.

Afterward, her spokesman Jamey Heath said, "Finally we had a chance to go at Mr. Tory or to ask Mr. Tory the specific questions we wanted to and he was left wanting."

Ms. Chow herself was reluctant to comment on Doug Ford personally on Friday – saying he's having "a very difficult time today" – but Mr. Heath called Doug's candidacy good news for her campaign, too.

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"Rob Ford is a formidable candidate," he said. "I don't think Doug is going to be able to fill his shoes." He added: "They have a Ford [on the ballot], but there is only one Rob Ford and he is not going to be mayor, and he's not running for mayor. And so, the choice is going to be Olivia Chow or one of the conservatives."

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