George Smitherman has released an unexpectedly positive ad blitz that doesn’t mention front-running mayoral rival Rob Ford.

The TV, radio, print and YouTube ads unveiled yesterday call Smitherman “a man with a plan” who would launch a war on waste and freeze taxes for a year while building transportation networks and “city services that work for you.”

Black-and-white images in the TV commercial show the former Ontario cabinet minister — dubbed “furious George” at Queen’s Park for his combative political style — beaming as he meets voters while campaigning.

While many expected Smitherman to launch attack ads on Ford, like those released last week by deputy mayor Joe Pantalone, Smitherman told reporters he feels no need to point out the Etobicoke councillor’s foibles, saying “people know what they’re dealing with.”

He pointed out that Ford’s mugshot from a 1999 Florida drunk driving arrest and later conviction was splashed across Toronto newspapers in August.

One of Smitherman’s two radio ads urges residents to vote for “a progressive mayor,” which Smitherman acknowledged is an attempt to appeal to left-of-centre voters who might normally vote for Pantalone, who received an endorsement from Mayor David Miller last week.

Smitherman was asked about anonymous signs that popped up on University Avenue overnight that don’t name Ford but appeared to attack his character. Smitherman called such attacks “cowardly” and said if he is going to take somebody to task, he’ll do it “frontally” and with his name attached.

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