Toronto mayor Rob Ford withdraws from race, brother steps in

Fri Sep 12, 2014 7:54pm EDT
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By Andrea Hopkins

TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who gained global notoriety for admitting he smoked crack cocaine, dropped his re-election bid on Friday, citing a health crisis, but his older brother took his place in the race to run Canada's largest city.

In drama worthy of Shakespeare, the family switch was made minutes before a deadline for changes to the city election ballot, which also saw a Ford nephew withdraw to allow his uncle, the mayor, to run for a city council seat in his place.

The Oct. 27 election is seen as a referendum on Ford's four tumultuous years leading Toronto. Recent polls had shown him in second place in a tight three-way race for mayor of Canada's financial capital and largest city with a population of 6 million.

Doug Ford, the mayor's older brother and campaign manager, is regarded as less charismatic but less volatile than his larger-than-life sibling, who steadfastly refused to resign even as he admitted buying illegal drugs while in office and checked himself into rehab.

"My heart is heavy when I tell you I am unable to continue my campaign for re-election as your mayor," Rob Ford said in a statement, adding that he could be "facing the battle of my lifetime."

"I've asked Doug to finish what we started together so that all we've accomplished isn't washed away. I've asked Doug to run to become the next mayor of Toronto because we need him."

The 45-year-old mayor was hospitalized on Wednesday after complaining of unbearable abdominal pains and was diagnosed with a tumor. He is undergoing a battery of tests, with biopsy results expected in a week.

At a press conference Friday evening, an emotional Doug Ford said that it had been a difficult few days for his "close-knit" family and in particular for his brother, who did not take the decision to step down from the mayoral race lightly.   Continued...

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford walks through a busy media scrum as he walks to his office during a break in a Capital and Operating Budgets meeting at City Hall in Toronto, January 22, 2014.  REUTERS/Mark Blinch