CBC TorontoOntario Votes 2011

Toronto Votes: Backroom switcheroo in the mayoral race

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By Pras Rajagopalan

The campaign for George Smitherman continues to position the former Ontario cabinet minister as the only legitimate alternative to Rob Ford after announcing that six former operatives from rival Rocco Rossi's camp had joined his team.

A Tuesday afternoon release titled "Smitherman Campaign Welcomes Key Rossi Organizers," revealed the six are:

  • Sachin Aggarwal, former campaign manager.
  • Gary Anandasangaree, former campaign co-chair.
  • Wes Davis, former director of tour and scheduling.
  • Jon Kastikainen, former director of operations.
  • Alexis Levine, former chair of the organization committee.
  • Darryl Tempest, former director of organization.

The most high-profile of the six is Aggarwal, who ran Rossi's campaign until August. Aggarwal left Rossi after being demoted for reportedly urging his candidate to quit the race amid what he believed were long odds to take the mayoralty.

Aggarwal was replaced by Conservative Bernie Morton as Rossi's campaign manager.

The Smitherman team was quick to portray the move as a sign the campaign was gaining momentum, with campaign manager Bruce Davis saying "it is clear from this move that George is the only candidate who can stop Rob Ford."

But Rossi's camp played down the Smitherman team's enthusiastic pronouncements. Five of the six hadn't worked on the campaign since late August, the Rossi camp said.

The release also said that Davis, the only person on the list who was still working for the Rossi camp this month, was "fired last Saturday for refusing to put up lawn signs during a major sign blitz and instead choosing to play golf out of town."