TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto voters were set to replace their notorious mayor, Rob Ford, in Monday’s election after Ford dropped out of the race in September after being diagnosed with cancer, but his elder brother still has a shot at the city’s top job.
Ford, who made global headlines last year when he admitted to using crack cocaine while in office, threw his support to his brother Doug Ford, a city councillor, who took his place on the mayoral ballot.
Rob Ford, who entered a rehab program earlier this year, will run for city councillor in his brother’s west Toronto ward, a stronghold for the close-knit political family with a base of supporters dubbed “Ford Nation”.
Results of the mayoral election are expected shortly after polls close at 8 p.m. EDT.
“I’m hoping Doug Ford will not win,” said voter Heather Bean, 39, a freelance writer and mother of two, after casting her ballot in east Toronto.
“My problem is not that Rob Ford is a crack addict, I had problems with him before that ... I don’t think they (the Fords) have the best interest of the city at heart.”
A final opinion poll released before election day showed conservative front-runner John Tory with a 12-point lead over Doug Ford, who has run on his brother’s populist platform of keeping taxes low and stopping waste at city hall.
The Forum Research poll showed Tory, a former Ontario provincial politician and business executive, with 44 percent support, Doug Ford with 32 percent, and left-leaning Olivia Chow, a former federal politician, in third place with 21 percent support.
The poll of 986 randomly selected voters who were certain of voting or who had already voted in advanced polls had a margin of error of 3 percent.
“Doug Ford had Ford Nation on his side, of course, but there’s a hard ceiling of about 35 percent on that group, and it doesn’t appear to be enough to defeat the consensus candidate,” Lorne Bozinoff, president of Forum Research, said in a statement.
Tory, riding on a groundswell of “anyone but Ford” sentiment, has been endorsed by every major Toronto newspaper.
Rob Ford dropped out of the election after doctors revealed he has malignant liposarcoma, a rare and aggressive type of cancerous tumor.
Doug Ford was his brother’s campaign manager before he pulled out of the mayoral race. He is regarded as less charismatic but also less volatile than his larger-than-life sibling, who gained notoriety by refusing to resign even after he admitted buying and using illegal drugs while in office.
But Doug Ford has struggled with his own public relations problems. He was asked to apologize after he was overheard saying “I can’t stand that little bitch,” while walking away from a media scrum in which he’d been doggedly questioned by a Toronto Star reporter.
He did not deny using the phrase but said he was talking about somebody else, and declined to apologize.
Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson; and Peter Galloway