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.
Posted by: satxgolfer | September 18, 2006 11:09 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Memphis Thinker | August 10, 2006 8:51 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: nomorefords | July 17, 2006 10:14 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: MominTN | July 11, 2006 9:41 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Tennessee Voter | April 21, 2006 7:21 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Tennessee Voter | April 21, 2006 7:20 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Southern Viewpoint | March 6, 2006 6:51 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Mrs. Ford | January 17, 2006 3:57 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Kitmac | January 10, 2006 3:42 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Marve | January 9, 2006 5:31 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: biscuithead | January 8, 2006 9:54 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Memphian | January 6, 2006 7:03 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: apwmel | January 6, 2006 5:59 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Anonymous | January 6, 2006 2:38 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: cmjaf | January 6, 2006 12:42 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: apwmel | January 6, 2006 12:39 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: dole4pineapple | January 6, 2006 11:30 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Cornellian | January 6, 2006 10:09 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Pat in Nashville | January 6, 2006 6:13 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Che | January 6, 2006 5:36 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: DB | January 6, 2006 1:00 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Memphian | January 5, 2006 11:50 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Lisa | January 5, 2006 10:17 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Brent Parrish | January 5, 2006 9:38 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Anne S. Ball | January 5, 2006 8:44 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Diane | January 5, 2006 8:05 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Keith | January 5, 2006 6:17 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Johnny B | January 5, 2006 6:06 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.