One senior Liberal has likened it to “shock and awe.”
The insider, speaking confidentially in order to discuss internal party discussions, was referring to the juggernaut that is Ontario Liberal leadership front-runner Steven Del Duca’s campaign.
“They are tying up everyone and his uncle,” said the veteran Grit, who is so far remaining neutral in the race that will end with the election of a new party leader on March 7.
“It’s the ‘shock and awe’ strategy to blow everyone else out of the water,” the source said.
Del Duca is the first candidate to register with both Elections Ontario and the Liberal party.
MPP Michael Coteau (Don Valley East) and Alvin Tedjo, a former Liberal hopeful in Oakville-North Burlington, are the other two declared candidates.
MPP Mitzie Hunter (Scarborough-Guildwood), is expected to join the contest.
On Monday, Del Duca’s campaign announced he has received the public endorsement of 100 Liberals, including former cabinet ministers and MPPs, riding presidents, past candidates and youth members.
“I am truly humbled by the support I have received so far,” Del Duca, the former cabinet minister and Vaughan MPP, said in a statement.
“It is encouraging to know that so many dedicated Liberals, representing communities all over Ontario, are rebuilding alongside me. We all have one shared goal: to make sure that Doug Ford’s first term in office is his last.”
That’s a reference to the Progressive Conservative premier who ended almost 15 years of Liberal governance with a June 2018 majority victory.
“Ontarians deserve better than the chaotic incompetence delivered by Doug Ford and his friends,” said Del Duca, who lost his riding to Progressive Conservative Michael Tibollo, who now serves as a junior health minister.
The Liberals held office under premiers Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne from October 2003 until last year. They now have just seven seats in the 124-member legislature.
Their caucus is so small that Tory MPPs routinely refer to them as “the minivan party” because they could all fit in one vehicle.
So far, Coteau is only sitting Liberal MPP in the leadership race.
Robert Benzie is the Star’s Queen’s Park bureau chief and a reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robertbenzie