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Harold Ford Jr. -- Underrated?

Is it possible that Tennessee Democratic Rep. Harold Ford Jr., who has been touted as a potential presidential candidate by the likes of Michael Barone, is actually being underestimated in his current race for the Senate?

In short, yes.

Ford, who is seeking the open seat of Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) in 2006, has so far flown under the radar among national strategists and observers, but has run a surprisingly strong campaign to date.

On the fundraising front -- a key element of any winning formula for a statewide race -- Ford has performed remarkably well. From Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, he raised better than $1 million for his bid, a haul that ups his total raised for the race to $4.25 million.  Ford's campaign would not release his cash on hand total through the end of 2005 (a slight annoyance) but as of Sept. 30 he had $1.75 million in the bank -- an impressive sum. His strong fundraising has helped to effectively marginalize the potentially troublesome candidacy of state Sen. Rosalind Kurita (D), who is challenging Ford in the primary.

Ford's cash position at the end of September was better than two of his three potential Republican opponents: Former Reps. Van Hilleary ($842,000 on hand) and Ed Byrant ($714,000).  Former Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker leads the entire field by a wide margin with $3.2 million on hand.

While his detractors -- including Kurita and Corker -- note that approximately 40 percent of Ford's contributions come from donors outside of Tennessee, the source of contributions rarely becomes a major issue in a race; voters have shown time and time again they are not overly concerned about how campaigns are funded.

Ford has also worked to beef up his foreign policy bona fides by making repeated trips to Iraq and Afghanistan since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.  Ford is leaving today for a series of meetings in that region of the world, a journey that will include a sitdown with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and stops in Iraq and Pakistan. Ford ran a television ad statewide over July 4th highlighting his trips. "A few weeks ago, I returned from my third trip to the Middle East, once again reminding me that in war there are no Democrats or Republicans, just Americans," he said.  The ad made no mention of his Senate campaign. A second spot focuses on Ford's domestic priorities.

While Ford deserves kudos for the campaign he has run thus far, it has not been without bumps.  For instance, he recently swapped out his entire consulting team, bringing in Jim Margolis of GMMB as his media consultant and Pete Brodnitz of the Benenson Strategy Group as his pollster. Such a wholesale change is never good news but better to clean house now than in September.

And, looming over Ford's entire campaign is the specter of his uncle -- former state Sen. John Ford (D).  Ford resigned his state Senate seat shortly after being caught accepting bribes in a FBI sting operation -- code named "Tennessee Waltz." John Ford's trial is set to begin on May 6.

Despite these problems, Ford has persevered and now appears to be in a position to benefit from a national political climate that is tilting toward Democrats.  The Tennessee race remains a difficult pickup for Democrats but Ford's surprisingly solid candidacy has given the party a legitimate chance.

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 5, 2006; 5:00 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Next: The Friday Line: Momentum for Senate Democrats


He is a Ford and there aren't any honest ones I can name. I grew up listening to their exploits and honestly he has not earned my respect. I'll pass him by for now. The elder Ford's have been crooks and thieves and it is hard to think the apple does not fall from the tree.

Posted by: satxgolfer | September 18, 2006 11:09 PM | Report abuse

I pay little attention to ones ability to be glib beyond the fact that this is at least the person is educated. So with Harold Ford, Jr., I think of his past. He was gifted the seat in the house, he is a member of a greedy and percentile-crooked family. I would not trust a Ford out of sight.

So, to heck with Harold and the whole greedy lobby led family that has had a hisstory of indictments, hava attempted to control every level of government starting with Memphis, TN and up and now they are offering Joke Ford, Harold's brother to replace him in the south. This guy didn't make it through high school.

Posted by: Memphis Thinker | August 10, 2006 8:51 PM | Report abuse

The real problem is Harold Ford, Sr. The father of Harold Ford, found not guilty of fraud, is the driving force of the Ford family who do only for themselves. They have done nothing for their people in the ninth district.

Other Fords, Harold, Jr. uncle, former state senator under indictment for fraud.
Ophelia Ford, ejected state senator based on fraud in her election. Emmit Ford, Harold, Jr's uncle, former city official, found guilty of fraud, James Ford, deceased, uncle of Harold Ford, Jr. made big bucks in fraud ridden day care centers and was on city council.

Now we have a Jake Ford, brother of Harold Ford, Jr. running for congress and this twerp has no credentials. Then there is Joe Ford, Harold, Junior's uncle on the city council and his son is running for the Harold, Jr.'s seat in congress and this man just dropped back into the city from a desk top lawyer practice in Hollywood thinking like all of the Fords that their name alone entitles them to be in local, county, state and federal government.

No, I'll not gamble on anyone named Ford when I go into the voting booth. Ford Sr, the Florida lobbyist charges enormous fees which can come about when you have so many members of your family under your thumb.

Posted by: nomorefords | July 17, 2006 10:14 AM | Report abuse

I think Harold Ford, Jr. will make a fine Senator for TN. Being a moderate, he can unite the voters both from the metropolitan and rural counties. He was for raising the minimum wage from the floor of $5.15 where it has been since 1997. This wage is worth less than the previous wage was in 1997. Ford is against amnesty for illegal aliens, and against amnesty for terrorists and criminals, unlike Bush. He believes in global warming unlike his three Republican opponents, and believes we can have real clean coal energy and invest in other sources of energy so we can stop supporting the middle east terrorism and stop poluting our air and our beautiful waterways and Smokey Mts. He is a Christian who believes in supporting all of our veterans and will do more to help them than the Republicans.
From a recent speech to the VFW at the capitol:
"The biggest applause from the veterans came when he declared that there are really two ways to measure the decency of a society - "the way we treat the least among us" and "the way we treat those who sacrifice for the rest of us." He pledged to push for improved veterans benefits."
It took a Democratic governor to balance the TN budget and improve education. We know that Ford will do what is right for the state of TN in the Senate of the USA.

Posted by: MominTN | July 11, 2006 9:41 PM | Report abuse

A rather haphazard site about the Fords and other related problems in the Memphis
area. An omen for the Fords is the fact that Auntie Ophelia did not get enough votes in a district where a Ford has been the prime name for over thirty years.

Junior, with little experience for a job as important as being a Senator will have to fool a lot of people to win in Tennessee. He seems to be a person surrounded by a family of idiots who all including junior look out only for themselves.

Posted by: Tennessee Voter | April 21, 2006 7:21 PM | Report abuse

A rather haphazard site about the Fords and other related problems in the Memphis
area. An omen for the Fords is the fact that Auntie Ophelia did not get enough votes in a district where a Ford has been the prime name for over thirty years.

Junior, with little experience for a job as important as being a Senator will have to fool a lot of people to win in Tennessee. He seems to be a person surrounded by a family of idiots who all including junior look out only for themselves.

Posted by: Tennessee Voter | April 21, 2006 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Here's a WWW site that seems to indicate Ford, Junior has a lot of baggage spread through out City, County and State offices in TN with his PaPa, a lobbiest pulling the strings from Miami.

Problem is the family appears to think they are owed their clout . . . . thus far.

Click on this . . . . I found it interesting.

Posted by: Southern Viewpoint | March 6, 2006 6:51 PM | Report abuse

I think that your just jealous of my baby...I Love you Harold Ford!

Posted by: Mrs. Ford | January 17, 2006 3:57 PM | Report abuse

As a Virginian, I agree with the wisdom of a Virginian who posted here earlier that Harold Ford could benefit significantly by following the outline of Tim Kaine's approach in running a political campaign. A key strategy employed by Kaine was to be completely up front about any of his personal beliefs - which we know will be brought up by the Repugs as early on as possible. Kaine framed his position on the death penalty, for instance, by admitting that although he deplored it, he would follow the letter of Virginia state law on this issue and abide by its dictates. This is a strategy that can be applied to any of the other issues that the Repugs will target, i.e., Ford's being unmarried, etc. The Repugs can't attack using issues that Ford has already brought to the forefront and defused with sincerity and candor.

Posted by: Kitmac | January 10, 2006 3:42 AM | Report abuse


I am a Democrat, and I would much rather vote for Ford than another rethuglican fool who will always vote his/her party line. Ford could not be in the position that he is in, in Tenn. without having to cast some conservative votes at times. He's in a precarious situation. He's black (big no-no for Rethugs even though they would like to get more into the black community for their votes), and he's in a red state. He would not get to this point if he were a raving activist Democrat! You know, you are the kind of Democrat that would vote against any Democrat who does not vote the party line always. And you are the kind of Democrat that is willing to throw your vote to a Rethuglican because your Democrat isn't Democrat enough. That's why we will never get anywhere because of Democrats like you. We could kiss the WH, the House, the Senate, our civil liberties and everything else we deem important to us goodbye if all of us voted like you. Could you rethink your position?

Posted by: Marve | January 9, 2006 5:31 PM | Report abuse

apwmel, if you look at Harold Ford's picture, you'll see that he doesn't look very "black" and why wouldn't he smile in his photos too?

Posted by: biscuithead | January 8, 2006 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Ford a liberal? Don't make me laugh. I repeat: Ford is a Republican in sheep's clothing. Republicans like to use his endorsements as proof of "bipartisanship support" of their scams. Ford is Tennessee's Lieberman. No self-respecting Democrat (or black) should vote for this patronizing phoney. As a Dem, I would rather see a Republican in Frist's place than a Democrat who sells the party out.

Posted by: Memphian | January 6, 2006 7:03 PM | Report abuse

No amount of "POSITIVE" radio ad's will help Ford. The Rep's will run ad's with his picture to remind voters that he is black and they will always contrast that with a smiling freindly picture of their guy. I still remember the greatest ad of all time, the Jesse Helms "White Hands" ad that worked like a charm against Harvey Gantt in NC.

Posted by: apwmel | January 6, 2006 5:59 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the third poster that Harlod Ford definately needs to consult with Tim Kaine's campaign folks for some excellent advice. I live in Virginia, and I think what worked for Kaine is he started his campaign in not so friendly areas of Virginia (i.e. the rural, and SW parts) by running positive radio ads to build up his credentials, character, integrity, and name recognition. That was a brilliant strategy because it gave Jerry Kilgore little chance to attack Kaine strongly on Kilgore's home turf as the race heated up close to the Nov 8th elections.

My advice to the Harold Ford's campaign people; Employ a similar strategy by running radio ads in red or unfriendly parts of Tennessee where the Republicans may have an advantage. This will go a long way to weaken his potential GOP opponent's political strength.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 6, 2006 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Okay, Id vote for him! He's smart, articulate, very good looking, and young enough to grow into a major power player in national politics. If TN cares about TNs future they ought to vote for Ford!!!

Posted by: cmjaf | January 6, 2006 12:42 PM | Report abuse

As an African-American and a Dem, I kind of hope that Ford loses. I say that because he's trying to be a moderate Dem, aka Rep LITE. Any half brain liberal Dem can speak to the issues of the day. We don't need to run from the labels but explain what they mean and what they don't mean. Ford could use this campaign as a chance to explain to people in Ten how they have been voting against their own interest and being deceived by the right. But Ford won't do that and that's why I hope he loses.

Posted by: apwmel | January 6, 2006 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Ford is single, so of course he's a womanizer! What, do you think he shouldn't be seeing women? If it looks like Ford has a chance, you can bet the Republicans will dredge up the ol' whispering campaign about Ford not being married like the Kentucky Republicans did.

Posted by: dole4pineapple | January 6, 2006 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Frankly, if I were a single guy running for the Senate in Tennessee, I'd prefer to have a reputation as a womanizer. Consider the alternative rumors the opposition attack machine could manufacture.

Posted by: Cornellian | January 6, 2006 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Harold does need to build his volunteer base, but hopefully thatm will happen soon. He's an excellent candidate to replace Cat-killer Frist.

Posted by: Pat in Nashville | January 6, 2006 6:13 AM | Report abuse

Robertson says Sharon's stroke is God's punishment
Thu, 05 Jan 2006 14:06:31 -0800

Probably the funniest thing ol' Crack-Pat has said in recent history. What's scary is the number of people who take him seriously, and probably find this statement accurate.

It will be interesting to see if Sharon's push towards withdrawing from occupied territories will be derailed. Hopefully Israel's population is as tired of the conflict as their Palestinian neighbors.
[Posted By Shogo]
By Associated Press
Republished from KARE 11
Never afraid of sounding like a loony bastard, Pat Robertson sticks any and all feet in the immediate vicinity into his gaping maw.

The Reverend Pat Robertson says Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's massive stroke could be God's punishment for giving up Israeli territory.

The founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network told viewers of "The 700 Club" that Sharon was "dividing God's land," even though the Bible says doing so invites "God's enmity."

Robertson added, "I would say woe to any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course."

He noted that former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated.

Robertson said God's message is, "This land belongs to me. You'd better leave it alone."

Posted by: Che | January 6, 2006 5:36 AM | Report abuse

A few thoughts on the above comments:

Ford is Not married and has no children. The tag womanizer has never been an issue in any of his campaigns. This accusation IMO is a fabrication from the neo con right wing zealots

On race:
His grandmother was white. Ford has reached out beyond the racial boundaries in Tennessee and gained respect from both whites and African-Americans. Race will be less of a factor in TN than many would think. Ford has not used the typical African-American base to win elections. The right will attempt to portray him as too liberal for TN and they will use scare tactics to bring out the redneck vote.

On his being GOP in sheeps clothing: Ford is a middle of the road, pragmatic, and yes a Democratic centrists. Just the kind of Democrat (and only kind) of Democrat that can win is statewide elections in TN. Democratic Governor Bresdon is cut from the same mold and will throw his support and network behind Ford. Bresdon is extremely popular along the lines of Mark Warner of VA.

On Ford's family legal troubles. Unless a case is made that JR is involved, TN voters can tell the difference.

On his election chances. A Chattanooga mayor is the front runner for GOP, but is well behind in name recognition. Further, he is not the first choice of the social conservatives and they may not come to the polls to support him,

Ford can win in every part of the states except East Tn. He will carry Memphis, Chattanooga, and hold his own in Knoxville and Nashville.

Originally I thought he was a long shot. However, the GOP candidates are very very weak candidates. I smell an upset with FOrd winning this seat in a very very close vote.

Posted by: DB | January 6, 2006 1:00 AM | Report abuse

Ford is a Republican in sheep's clothing, and he often votes to sell out his own race. Let him run -- but in the party where he truly belongs.

Posted by: Memphian | January 5, 2006 11:50 PM | Report abuse

Harold Ford Jr. is a womanizer and total loser. He is an embarassment to Memphis. The truth would come out about him if they had a decent newspaper.

Posted by: Lisa | January 5, 2006 10:17 PM | Report abuse

The real question is TN ready for an africian american Senator??? I hate to say it, but from what I've see right now it is no.

Posted by: Brent Parrish | January 5, 2006 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Have watched this young person interviewed numerous times the past two years. He, at present, appears to be a clear thinking, calm, intelligent, honest political figure. His appraisal of the problems this country has, and his solutions for improvement, should be carefully listened to. He represents the "younger generation" very well. As an antique, it is encouraging to think the future of this country may have some wise and hard working youth willing to take on the huge task of guiding what we all treasure

Posted by: Anne S. Ball | January 5, 2006 8:44 PM | Report abuse

I live in Tennessee, and have yet to see much of Mr Ford's campaign. He very much needs to start the ball rolling on his ground game and actively building up his volunteer base. Ford needs to apply the same lessons from Tim Kaine's campaign. Seek advice from Kaine's folks. It would go a long way in helping him reach out to all demographics of the TN population.

Posted by: Diane | January 5, 2006 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Ford Jr., is nothing like his uncle; or his corrupt father, for that matter. In fact, he appears to be the best of the Fords from Memphis.

Posted by: Keith | January 5, 2006 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Honestly, Ford must overcome his race. Not to mention a close family-political scandal. Not a big deal yet, but wait until convictions.

Posted by: Johnny B | January 5, 2006 6:06 PM | Report abuse

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