Archived columns and blog posts by Matt Elliott

Finally announcing her mayoral ambitions, Stintz stumbles out of the gate

By: Metro Published on Tue Oct 29 2013

But as much as her decision has felt like an inevitability for months, Stintz’s announcement was still notable for just how badly she seemed to position her campaign to replace Mayor Rob Ford. Right out of the gate, Stintz seems to have set herself up for failure.

An exaggeration? Consider this: “I believe in the fiscal agenda of Rob Ford.” That’s what Stintz told the Toronto Star when asked about her reasons for running.

“I worry that another four years of Rob Ford may not move the city forward,” she added, but the qualifier hardly matters — she may have sealed her fate with that first bit, where she both gave the mayor way more credibility than he deserves and indicated that she won't have a fiscal agenda all her own.

That’s a big problem for someone who wants to lead the city. Successful politicians tend to do well because they set themselves apart from the field. Stintz, though, seems primed to position herself as something resembling a slightly toned-down version of Rob Ford — the Bud Light to the mayor’s Budweiser.

It’s not likely to work. By aligning herself with Ford on fiscal issues, Stintz is asking voters to reject him primarily on the basis of his various scandals. It’s a dangerous strategy, threatening to turn the entire 2014 campaign into a referendum on whether Ford’s headline-grabbers should preclude him from holding office.

That kind of campaign isn't going to do much good for the city.

Instead, Stintz and the rest of the field need to talk less about Ford’s character and more about the issues. Instead of implying that Ford simply isn’t fit to be mayor, tell voters why he’s not a particularly good mayor. Instead of lending Ford undue credibility on budget issues, attack his inconsistent approach and inability to make progress in major areas. Go after his budget boasts on the basis that many of them simply aren’t true. Point out that he has been far from accountable, and has no real vision for the city.

Stintz, though, seems to have charted a different course. A course that apparently starts with “I believe in the fiscal agenda of Rob Ford.” A course that assumes what Toronto really wants is a mayor who’s just like Rob Ford, but a little less so. Good luck getting voters excited about that.

This post was originally published at on 2013-10-29T00:00:00.000Z

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Matt Elliott

City Hall watcher, columnist and policy wonk in Toronto.
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