Sex scandal leaves void in race for Toronto mayor

Toronto — Globe and Mail Update

Adam Giambrone prepares to announce he will no longer be running for mayor of Toronto at a press conference on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010. (Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail)

Adam Giambrone's bombshell decision to quit the mayor's race has left David Miller supporters seeking a new heir apparent and others calling on Mr. Giambrone to resign as TTC chair.

Mr. Giambrone, 32, made a brief statement to the media Wednesday morning in which he apologized for intimate relationships with women other than his long-time partner, Sarah McQuarrie.

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"I want to apologize as a councillor, to my fellow councillors, for the negative attention I have brought upon them and to this chamber," he said. "I want to apologize also to the communities across this city and to the young people who believed in me. It is my sincere hope that they continue to believe in themselves and their own abilities to make positive change."



Then, with a curt "thank you" he fled the press conference before completing his statement, leaving executive assistant Kevin Beaulieu to tell reporters about Mr. Giambrone's future: "His mayoralty campaign ends today."

The early exit was a mix-up. A staffer handed Mr. Giambrone only the first page of his two-page statement as he walked into the press conference.

"He was under giant stress and he saw he'd run out of paper," said Media Profile chairman Patrick Gossage, who was working with the Giambrone campaign. "He was just reading it in a fog, obviously. He said thank you. As soon as he came off the stage he realized that he hadn't actually said what he was supposed to."

Mr. Beaulieu, who returned to the podium to finish the statement, went on to say Mr. Giambrone intends to remain TTC chairman.

That raised questions about whether the councillor is still fit to lead the transit agency.

Mayoralty front-runner George Smitherman called on Mr. Giambrone to resign immediately.

"It is clear that Mr Giambrone is in not in a position to commit that degree of focus nor provide the leadership that is necessary to get the job done for riders, workers or taxpayers," Mr. Smitherman said in a statement. "With those interests in mind, he should step down as Chair of the TTC."

Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, a frequent critic of left-leaning councillors, including Mr. Giambrone, echoed Mr. Smitherman's sentiment. "We have to ask ourselves, does Councillor Giambrone have the confidence of the public? And I think right now the answer to that is no."

Mr. Giambrone's personal troubles come after a fare hike, token hoarding and photos and videos of slacking transit workers stoked smouldering discontent with the city's public transit system.

Given that, Councillor Brian Ashton said this latest distraction is one too many for Mr. Giambrone.

"I think probably a wise thing would be to step down and allow the mayor to either take over the position himself or have somebody in there that can help get us through the next six months," Mr. Ashton said.

Adam Giambrone announced that he will no longer be running for mayor of Toronto at a press conference Feb. 10/2010.

For his part, Mayor David Miller, who is in Ottawa, declined to weigh in on Mr. Giambrone's future at the transit agency.

"Councillor Giambrone's decision to leave the mayoralty race is regrettable," Mr. Miller said in a statement. "His voice and the vision he could have brought to this important campaign will be missed but his decision to focus on his private life and his current duties is understandable."

Still, some encouraged Mr. Giambrone to stay put, including his predecessor as chair of the TTC.

"Not withstanding these peccadilloes that have come out in the last while, the guy's competent, he's a consensus builder and I think he's done a reasonably good job," Councillor Howard Moscoe said.

He added: "If having high moral qualities is a condition for running the TTC we'd have a hard time finding very many people who could run the TTC."

Mr. Giambrone's exit significantly alters the mayoralty contest.

The councillor was the unofficial heir to Mr. Miller, having inherited much of the political machine that propelled Mr. Miller to victories in 2003 and 2006.

The likeliest beneficiary of Mr. Giambrone's downfall is fellow progressive councillor Joe Pantalone, who said Wednesday he had already received calls from people inquiring about his campaign for mayor.

"This kind of message now really only has one champion, which is myself," said Mr. Pantalone, the deputy mayor. "I regret that his stepping back had to happen this way. There's no joy in it."

Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, who is also running for mayor, said he doesn't expect the sinking of his Mr. Giambrone's campaign to buoy his chances.

"I don't think his exit is affecting me at all because his votes were coming strictly from the left," said Mr. Mammoliti, who is running from the right. He also encouraged Mr. Giambrone to resign from the TTC.

Mayoral contenders George Smitherman and Rocco Rossi were not immediately available for comment.

The end of Mr. Giambrone's mayoralty campaign began with a story in a local newspaper accusing the TTC chair of having an affair with Kristen Lucas, a now 20-year-old university student and aspiring model.

He apologized, but initially denied having sex with Ms. Lucas, saying their relationship was limited to seamy text messages and meetings in public places.

On Wednesday, he reversed his position and admitted "intimate relationships" with several women.