Rob Ford, under attack from George Smitherman, picked up his trusty eHealth club and whacked the former deputy premier. Smitherman countered that the software boondoggle was started by a Conservative colleague of Ford’s MPP father.

“My dad passed away three years ago — thanks,” Ford spat back.

That’s the kind of campaign it has been for Smitherman, who admits that, six months into the marathon race to Oct. 25, he is not connecting with voters as well as the tightwad Etobicoke councillor.

“Clearly there’s an appetite for ‘Just say no’ (to city spending) that has been captured by my primary opponent, Mr. Ford,” Smitherman said, after two new polls showed Ford has erased Smitherman’s once-healthy lead and perhaps pulled ahead.

Smitherman argues that now, with a “defined two-way race” and Mayor Rob Ford a tangible possibility, the media is starting to scrutinize Ford’s policies and pronouncements.

Over the summer, he says, voters will shift from visceral anger at city hall spending to a more “aspirational” mindset open to detailed proposals for civic greatness.

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