Coun. Joe Pantalone will accept the endorsement of NDP Leader Jack Layton on Wednesday while another trailing candidate introduced a new campaign manager.

Pantalone will appear with Layton, a former Toronto city councillor, at Nathan Phillips Square at 9 a.m.

Meanwhile, Rocco Rossi welcomed his new campaign manager -- Bernie Morton, a veteran backroomer who had worked on the mayoral campaign of John Tory in 2003.

"This is the new mayor of the city," Morton told a small gathering at Rossi's 185 Avenue Rd. campaign office as he hoisted the candidate's arm upward.

"My challenge is to get (Rossi) out to the voters, and get him to inspire them the way he's inspired me," he said afterwards.

Sachin Aggarwal, the former campaign manager, stays with the team as director of policy. He will oversee development of Rossi's platform.

Toronto's municipal election is set for Oct. 25. Rossi, Pantalone and publisher Sarah Thomson are all clustered near the bottom of an Ipsos-Reid poll released Monday that puts Coun. Rob Ford in the lead with 32 per cent support.

"Excited to hear about @RobFordTeam 11 point lead in the polls. Thanks to everyone for all their hard work and support!" the Ford campaign said via Twitter, the social messaging service, on Tuesday.

The lead comes despite a week of bad news for Ford:

  • he appeared to be against more immigration to Toronto in statements made during a mayoral candidates debate on CP24
  • it was revealed he has a 1999 criminal conviction in Florida for driving under the influence
  • the integrity commissioner cited him for using city letterhead to send out fundraising letters for his private football charity

Former provincial cabinet minister George Smitherman is in second place with 21 per cent support. He didn't mention the poll result on either his personal or campaign Twitter feeds.

Thomson, Pantalone and Rossi are all at least 11 points behind Smitherman.

The media-sponsored poll, conducted over this past weekend, sampled 400 Torontonians of voting age. It has a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

"Within the margin of error, there are two frontrunners and then there are three people in a pack that have to break out," Rossi told CTV Toronto.

"I'm in third place but I'm moving on up," Thomson told a voter in Bloor West Village as she campaigned.

"We have a spending problem at city hall," she said. "But we can't go and take a meat cleaver to every single program, or we won't have the money and the economy that we need to keep out of that recession."

While the race for the mayor's office began on Jan. 4, it traditionally heats up after Labour Day when people are done with their summer vacations.

The top candidates will be debating each other virtually every day. If any new candidate wants to join in -- or any current one wants to drop out -- the deadline is 2 p.m. on Sept. 10.

With a report from CTV Toronto's Alicia Markson