If I told you there was a public relations strategy that would win you a race you weren’t even in, and for free, would you believe me?
Probably not, but if you don’t believe me believe John Tory.
The quintessential Torontonian politician has essentially won the mayoral race without even filing his papers to run.
With a few botched runs under his belt, including his 2003 loss to current mayor David Miller, Tory is widely known, in general, to be a great candidate but a political loser. For whatever reason, he can’t seem to win.
However, whether it is credited to an ingenious PR strategy or as a result of the many shortcomings of the current candidates, John Tory is the name on the lips of many Toronto residents. Recent polls showed him as the candidate most Torontonians would vote for, swinging votes from current frontrunners Rob Ford and George Smitherman and second-choice favourite Rocco Rossi.
You’d think that any serious candidate would be in the race by now. With all the public appearances, photo ops and debates (some even moderated by Tory), it would seem that the serious candidates have been solidified at this point.
However, along with these image-boosting opportunities there have also been scandals (see: Rob Ford’s drug tape ) and scraps (Red-faced Rob vs. Furious George), forcing voters to question whether these are the attitudes we want at City Hall. Notably absent from the campaign-killing fray? John Tory. [OH, and usually George Smitherman. He doesn’t need to campaign because he’s already won, dontchaknow.]
By sitting back and watching the other candidates flounder and fight, John Tory’s reputation has earned him the position as ‘The Man We Wish Would Run” amongst voters. No need to enter the fray just yet – the incompetency of the current candidates have Torontonians begging for Tory to cave to pressure and run.
By the time the end of the summer rolls around, we will be sick of the other candidates and their presumably coy attempts at reaching out to every demographic (Rocco Rossi, I’m looking at you) or at solidifying their base (will we see Rob Ford at the Pride Parade or will that anger his Conservative friends?). Should John Tory arrive at City Hall to file his papers, he would be backed by all but the most fervent supporters from the other campaigns. All without paying a cent in campaign expenses.
For Tory, this might be the smartest PR move he’s made in years. By keeping Torontonians guessing, with his “No…but never say never” schtick, Tory’s propelled himself into first place in a race he hasn’t formally entered. Deliberate or not, every point against another candidate has become a point for Tory. Now that’s great PR, whether he decides to run or not.
Will it make him the next mayor of Toronto? Will it prove detrimental to his campaign? Do you think it would work for anyone but Tory? Let me know in the comments!