At this early point in the 2014 mayoral campaign, nobody has ruled out the possibility that Rob Ford will win reelection, but here’s one reason it’s doubtful the mayor will have an easy victory (you know, aside from all the scandals): his campaign is apparently in disarray.
What many outside city hall don’t realize is that Ford Nation has undergone a bit of a regime change over the past three years. Nick Kouvalis, the conservative political operative who is credited with having engineered Ford’s 2010 victory (and who later briefly served as the mayor’s chief of staff), is now working for the enemy, John Tory, who launched his run for mayor on Monday. Doug Ford is acting as his brother’s campaign manager this time around, and he has been evasive when questioned about who else is working on Rob’s reelection. “We have the people on our team,” he told reporters last week. “We don’t need the establishment, and, you know, 200 generals.”
And now the Star is saying that campaign manager Doug may have bungled an essential task: not losing the precious reams of voter data compiled for the Ford campaign by Kouvalis and company during the 2010 election.
According to the Star, Doug has been claiming that Kouvalis is “refusing” to turn over copies of the Ford campaign’s 2010 voter database, which includes contact information for supporters. Meanwhile, Mitch Wexler, a data contractor who built voter profiles for Ford during the campaign, says he gave two copies of the data to the mayor’s brother in 2011. The implication is that Doug may be blaming others for his own mistake. The Fords may have lost the keys to their own kingdom.
Political campaigns live or die by their ability to identify and motivate supporters, and so it’s impossible to overstate how damaging it would be to the mayor’s reelection hopes if he weren’t able to lay hands on his voter data. In her book Crazy Town, Star reporter Robyn Doolittle writes that Ford’s voter database was drawn directly from reams of phone records compiled over the course of his decade as a city councillor. Many of the names on the list were residents he had personally assisted with problems—grateful constituents who would gladly vote for him in good times or bad.
Voter data was one of the things that separated Ford from his competition in 2010, and the lack of it could separate him once again, this time to his detriment.