Dean French, one of the organizers of Thursday night's "Harmony Dinner" -- an unusual joint fundraiser aimed at clearing the campaign debts of Toronto mayoral candidates Rob Ford, Sarah Thomson and Rocco Rossi -- says that, as of Wednesday morning, more than 700 tickets had been sold.
The original goal was 500 tickets. The cash value of the tickets raised is about $700,000, French said.
"I can say that it's going to have a significant impact for all three candidates," he said.
Elections fundraising rules prohibit the candidates from splitting the pot evenly. They -- and their supporters -- are selling their own tickets and will receive only those proceeds. French said he can't release the totals they raised until after the event.
George Smitherman finished with little or no debt but is involved to help Thomson, who dropped out late in the race and backed him.
Ford finished his campaign $800,000 in the red -- $150,000 more than estimated after his Oct. 25 win -- a spokeswoman recently told the Globe and Mail. Rossi has paid off about half his $60,000 debt, while Thomson now owes about $80,000, down from more than $100,000.
Thomson, Smitherman and Rossi will speak, with the mayor going last. Diners will then hear the music of jazz-pop singer Matt Dusk.
The night promises to be a strange mix of political bedfellows, as evidenced by the events co-chairs -- former premiers Mike Harris (arch-conservative), David Peterson (Liberal) and John (red) Tory.
Noticably absent will be Joe Pantalone, the standard-bearer for former mayor David Miller's left-leaning egacy who finished third behind Smitherman and Ford.
He elected not to participate, largely because of the involvement of Harris, whom he feels did terrible damage to Toronto and its citizens as premier.
Pantalone held his own fundraiser Tuesday night, attended by about 100 people including councillors Janet Davis, Shelley Carroll, Mike Layton and Paula Fletcher.
"Once some promised cheques come in, my debt will be cleared," Pantalone said.