Why are so many potential Toronto mayoral candidates considering a run?

The nomination period has yet to open and many potential candidates are hinting they’re considering a run in the upcoming Toronto mayoral byelection, but despite the abbreviated election campaign on the horizon, many of those expressing interest remain non-committal.

The city clerk scheduled the byelection for June 26 following the sudden resignation of Mayor John Tory after a sex scandal. The nomination period will begin in just over three weeks and several current and former politicians continue to express interest in seeking the city’s top job.

Read more: Toronto plans to hold byelection to elect new mayor on June 26

Late Tuesday night, Etobicoke Centre city councillor Stephen Holyday became the latest to express interest in a mayoral bid.

“I want this city to be better. I’m prepared to roll up my sleeves over the next three-and-a-half years and deliver on a plan to make it better,” Holyday told Global News.

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Still, Holyday, much like councillors Brad Bradford and Josh Matlow, along with former councillor Ana Bailãoand Liberal MPP Mitzie Hunter, have only said they’re considering it.

“It takes a lot to get into an election campaign. It’s not the nomination date yet,” said Holyday. “But I still want to talk to citizens across the city over the next few weeks.”

Etobicoke Centre City Councillor Stephen Holyday has become the latest sitting councillor to announce he’s considering a run in the upcoming by-election. Matthew Bingley/Global News

Ipsos pollster Darrell Bricker said “the trail balloons” being floated by interested parties is a relatively low-risk approach to testing the amount of support awaiting them.

“If they put their name out there as being considered, they don’t necessarily have to confirm it. They’re thinking about it and if all of a sudden a bit of buzz gets started around the fact they might be a candidate, that could create some momentum,” he said.

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However, Bricker warned there is risk involved in waiting too long before making it official. “The money’s not unlimited and the people who can actually work on your campaign are not unlimited,” he said.

“It’s a pretty exclusive group who contribute to campaigns and works on them. So if you don’t get in there and freeze your potential donors and your potential volunteers, by suggesting you might be in the race, they could go off and be with someone else.”

Read more: Prospective candidates ‘seriously consider’ run in Toronto mayoral byelection

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Myer Siemiatycki, professor emeritus of political science at Toronto Metropolitan University, said the prize awaiting the victor in the byelection is a big one, so it’s understandable many candidates would want to plan out a sound election strategy before going all in.

He also said there is some strategy to the non-committal approach, in that candidates are letting voters know who their friends and supporters are.

Regardless of who is in or out, Siemiatycki is convinced the interest shown already is going to translate into a high-charged campaign which will translate to more voter engagement.

“Among other things, it will offer choice to Torontonians,” he said “and that will only be to the good of voter turnout,” Siemiatycki said.

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“I expect that this will be a very contested and crowded election campaign offering voters a wide range of political prescriptions on the direction that Toronto needs to take going forward,”

“I’m almost prepared to say, ‘Get ready for a bit of a barn-burner of an election.”

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Byelection for new Toronto mayor will ‘take some time and some preparation’: McKelvie

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