Ford Jr. weighs longshot bid for NY-Senate
Former Tennessee Rep. Harold Ford Jr. is weighing the possibility of challenging appointed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand later this year, a longshot candidacy for the one-time rising star in Democratic politics.
Ford, according to a report in the New York Times, is being encouraged to run by a group of New York City-based Democratic donors and will make up his mind in the next 45 days.
In conversations with leading Democratic strategists, there seems to be little belief that Ford will ultimately get into the race for several reasons.
* The White House has gone out of its way to shore up Gillibrand in a Democratic primary, talking Rep. Steve Israel out of his near-certain candidacy. It's hard to imagine that the White House wouldn't be equally aggressive in trying to keep Ford out.
* Ford has only lived in New York for three years. Yes, we know there is a history of carpet-bagging in the Empire State -- see Clinton, Hillary Rodham -- but Ford's political background is in a state with very different political demographics than New York.
* Gillibrand's weakness in a primary is a challenge from her ideological left, given her past votes on immigration and gun control when she represented the conservative-tilting 20th district in Upstate New York. Ford, the current chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council, is not the candidate to run that sort of campaign. During his run for Senate in 2006 -- a race he narrowly lost to Sen. Bob Corker -- Ford positioned himself right in the center of the Democratic party, taking conservative stances on guns and abortion among other issues. Already the New York branch of the NARAL Pro-Choice America has issued a statement highlighting his past stance on abortion and promising to challenge him aggressively if he tried to run.
The simple fact -- and people who follow politics closely have long known this -- is that Ford is one of the most talented politicians in the Democratic party but he was simply born and raised in the wrong state for such a figure to thrive.
Ford ran as good a campaign as can be run in Tennessee in 2006 in a very good year nationally for Democrats and still couldn't get over the top. Ford's decision not to run for the open governor's seat this November was taken by an indication that he had realized that statewide office was simply not in the cards for him in the Volunteer State.
Could Ford re-emerge as a potent political force down the line in New York? Absolutely -- there have been far less talented politicians who have made more surprising transformations. But, this cycle isn't the one where that re-emergence happens.
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