TORONTO - Controversial Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he's, in his words, "absolutely salivating" to defend his record in the city's election one year away.
Ford said on his weekly show on Toronto radio station Newstalk 1010 that he can't wait for the mayoral campaign to start so he can tell voters what a "phenomenal job" he's done and why he should be re-elected.
He rattled off a handful of what he said were some "40 pages'" worth of achievements, including a planned subway expansion and a shake-up at the city's public housing agency.
But Ford will have some competition from right-leaning councillor and transit commission chair Karen Stintz, who told several media outlets this weekend she's jumping into the race for the mayor's chair.
Stintz is positioning herself as a conservative alternative to the controversial mayor, who didn't directly comment on his rival's planned candidacy during his show Sunday.
The official start of the 2014 municipal election campaign is Jan. 2, which is the first day candidates can register to run.
Former councillor David Soknacki has also said he will mount a mayoral campaign, while speculation has swirled for months over New Democrat MP Olivia Chow and former Progressive Conservative leader John Tory joining the fray.
For his part, Ford said he welcomes all comers.
"I'm just drooling, I'm absolutely salivating, for this next election."
"I can't wait to get at it. The campaign's on folks," he said.
Analysts say it's impossible to predict whether Ford — a polarizing figure better known for his actions outside city hall — will hold on to his seat.
They're not counting him out, however, and say his larger-than-life personality, combined with the drug-use allegations that have swirled around him, mean Toronto residents probably won't be the only ones tuning in on election day.
"I think the rest of the country will be curious to see who is Toronto going to elect and vote for," said Myer Siemiatycki, a professor of politics at Toronto's Ryerson University.
"It may also be something of a test of how unorthodox can you be as a political leader and still get re-elected," he told The Canadian Press.
The mayor's tumultuous personal life has largely overshadowed his policy decisions, a fact that has frustrated allies and opponents alike.
Ford's actions have made him somewhat famous abroad as well, grabbing headlines and making him the butt of jokes on late-night television.
He once called in the police after a CBC comedy troupe showed up at his doorstep and has admitted to reading at the wheel to catch up on paperwork.
Last year, he was forced out of office after a judge ruled he violated conflict-of-interest rules but the decision was overturned on appeal before the penalty could kick in.
Then there are this spring's allegations by the Toronto Star and the U.S. gossip site Gawker that reporters have seen a video that appears to show Ford smoking crack cocaine.
Such a video has never surfaced publicly.
Ford has denied smoking crack cocaine and said the video does not exist.
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