Toronto Mayor Rob Ford wasted no time relaunching his bid for re-election, officially filing his nomination papers Thursday shortly after the clerk's office opened on the first day for acceptance of nominations.
"I've got the strongest track record, I've been the best mayor this city has ever had," Ford told reporters shortly after submitting his nomination papers and officially declaring his candidacy in the Oct. 27 municipal election.
When asked about the personal problems that have dogged him throughout 2013, Ford, in a testy exchange with reporters, responded: "That's all personal. Let the people speak for themselves."
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Dennis Pilon, a political science professor at York University, thinks Ford's might have a tough road ahead of him.
"I think that his coalition of support is going to break apart," Pilon said.
"The Rob Ford diehards are going to stick with him — they look pretty strong — but I think that the run of the mill Conservatives, the right of centre voters, some of them are going to decide to vote for maybe even a centrist candidate who they looks a bit more normal, acts a bit more normal than Rob Ford."
Ford is the first person to register for the mayoralty race.
So far, only Coun. Karen Stintz and former budget chief David Soknacki have said they will run.
Politicians rumoured to be considering a mayoralty bid include:
- Olivia Chow, NDP MP for the downtown Toronto riding of Trinity-Spadina and former city councillor.
- John Tory, former provincial Progressive Conservative leader and current radio host.
- Denzil Minnan-Wong, a fiscal conservative who chairs the city's public works committee.
Ford's move to seek re-election comes after a turbulent 2013. The mayor made headlines around the world after showing up drunk at public events, admitting to smoking crack cocaine and apologizing repeatedly for various inappropriate comments.
With Ford refusing calls for him to resign, council voted in November to strip him of many of his powers.
CBC News city hall reporter Jamie Strashin said the "central question" of the campaign will be whether voters are willing to look beyond Ford's widely reported personal problems.
"It's a long, arduous campaign, with more than 100 debates," Strashin reported on CBC News Network. "Now the race is on. We should see more candidates register in the weeks to come."
New Year's levee wasn't free from politics
On Wednesday, Ford and a handful of other councillors gathered at city hall to meet with residents at the New Year's Day levee. People waited in line for up to an hour to shake hands and have their picture taken with Ford and other councillors at the annual event.
A few who attended came wearing "Ford Nation" T-shirts, though one woman told CBC News she waited in line to tell Ford he has been a "terrible" mayor and should not run again.
The levee is billed as a chance for residents, and not the media, to speak with council members.
Most councillors remained behind the velvet rope partition at city hall, but Stintz spoke to reporters, telling them the city needed better leadership during the recent ice storm, which left tens of thousands without power in frigid weather over the holidays.
In the days after the storm, Ford was repeatedly asked whether he would declare a state of emergency, a move that would have ceded emergency powers to Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly.
Although many experts have said Ford did the right thing not declaring a state of emergency, Stintz said this created a "who's-in-charge" situation instead of clear leadership.
"During the week of the ice storm, we didn't benefit from having a strong mayor and we should have," she said.
Nominations for mayor and council races remain open until Sept. 12.