After seemingly closing in on his opponent in the lead up to yesterday’s election, George Smitherman lost the mayoral race by nearly 100,000 votes.
His opponent, Rob Ford, will now be the next mayor of Toronto, winning the election with 47 per cent of the vote.
“The people of Toronto have spoken and tonight their message is clear. I congratulate Ford for a campaign well fought,” Smitherman said in his concession speech.
Many Smitherman supporters at his election night HQ were surprised and disappointed at the results.
“I’m in shock right now,” said Smitherman booster Alex Miller. “I didn’t think this is how the vote was going to go down.”
Smitherman refused to comment as to why the campaign was lost, but some staff said a recent smear campaign affected the results. This past weekend, radio ads and flyers attacked Smitherman for his sexual orientation.
“I had hoped that it wouldn’t affect the campaign, but I think it might have,” said Rick Martin, policy correspondent for Smitherman.
Others said it was the current mood of the city that lost him the vote.
“People are angry right now and this was a very anti-establishment vote,” said Smitherman supporter Debra Johansen. “George represents that establishment.”
Smitherman, 46, a former Ontario cabinet minister, has taken credit for the province’s Green Energy Act. He also faced criticism for his role in the $1 billion eHealth scandal.
Despite the election loss, Smitherman says he’s hopeful for the future and looks forward to spending time with his husband, Christopher Peloso, and his recently adopted 2-year-old son, Michael.
The eHealth fiasco wasn’t a major issue during the race. But perhaps the billion dollar boondoggle was nesting in the minds of voters despite the relative silence on the issue during the campaign.