January 12th, 2010
11:10 AM ET
8 years ago

Ford says he's considering NY Senate bid

Ford may run for Senate in New York.

Ford may run for Senate in New York.

(CNN) - Former Rep. Harold Ford Jr. of Tennessee says he may challenge fellow Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand for her Senate seat in New York.

"It's true: I am strongly considering running for the United States Senate," Ford writes in Tuesday's New York Post.

The five term congressman, who narrowly lost a 2006 bid for the Senate in Tennessee, now lives in New York and lately has hinted that he might make take on Gillibrand for their party's Senate nomination. Gillibrand, a former congresswoman from upstate New York, was named a year ago to replace Hillary Clinton, who stepped down from her Senate seat after being confirmed as secretary of state. Gillibrand is running to serve the final two years of Clinton's term.

Ford's move may anger the White House, which supports Gillibrand and has helped clear the field of any potential Democratic rivals.

"I think the White House is quite happy with the leadership and the representation of Senator Gillibrand in New York," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday when asked about a possible bid by Ford.  "We're supporting her reelection."

Asked about new attempts by the White House to clear the field again, Gibbs said "stay tuned."

Ford appeared to strike back, saying, "Some have already questioned whether I should be running. Others are falsifying my record in public life. New Yorkers deserve a free election."

Ford also appeared to push back against arguments that he's not really a New Yorker.

"I moved to New York more than three years ago, have been a New York resident for more than a year and am a registered voter in New York City. My wife and I both work in Manhattan, proudly call lower Manhattan home and plan to start and raise a family in New York," writes Ford.
It's worth noting that Clinton and Robert Kennedy, who served as a senator from New York in the 1960's, both moved to the state in their adult years before running for office.

Ford also attempted to shoot down the argument that he's too conservative for New York Democrats: "I am pro-choice - have always been since I entered politics almost 15 years ago. My cumulative grade with NARAL during 10 years in Congress was right at 80 percent. Any assertions to the contrary are false."

Surveys suggest Gillibrand could be vulnerable in a battle with a strong opponent. A poll released early last month by Quinnipiac University indicated that 4 in 10 New York voters approved job Gillibrand's doing as senator, with an equal amount unsure and 1 in 5 disapproving of her performance in office. And in a Siena poll released in November,  just under a third of the New York voters questioned thought she deserved to hold on to her seat, and 34 percent said they'd back another candidate.

But Republicans are without a big name candidate at this time. Former New York City Mayor and 2008 GOP presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani has said no to a senate run, as has 9-term Rep. Peter King. Former New York State Governor George Pataki appears non-committal about making a bid.

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn

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soundoff (78 Responses)
  1. ER

    A pro-lifer thinking of running in NY? Is he retarded or just looking to line his pockets with the money of fools?

    January 12, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  2. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I think that Ford should live in NY state a little longer before he runs for elected office there. He may have some level of name recognition, but how much of that is negative because he was already elected to the House when he lived in TN? I would hope that he considers that.

    January 12, 2010 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  3. Annie, Atlanta

    Why would he do this, other than ego? And why would New Yorkers go for this when they have a wonderful Senator in Gillibrand? Am I missing something? Sounds like a huge waste of money. It would be interesting to hear from New Yorkers on this.

    January 12, 2010 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  4. Glenn, Cary, NC

    Harold Ford has distinguished himself on a national scale. He would make an excellent senator for New York.

    January 12, 2010 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  5. Bob in Pa

    This garbage has to stop. The White House should be forbidden from weighing in on any state or local election. It is the people of that state’s decision and it doesn't matter what the White House wants. We need all money and other influences removed from state elections.

    It's time to give the government back to the people.

    January 12, 2010 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  6. Anonymous

    Wrong way, Harold. You are not from New York. Go home and run again there.

    January 12, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  7. Larry

    Ford is a sharp guy – I would trust him alot more than Gillibrand – Hilary's hand-picked successor.

    January 12, 2010 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  8. shmeckell

    If the White House is going to support Gillibrand, this guy is a shoe-in.

    January 12, 2010 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  9. Lisa, NJ

    Ford is a good man, and I hope he runs and is selected. I think New Yorkers will be pleased.

    January 12, 2010 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  10. Rob in Detroit Mi.

    I think harold Ford is the rit man for the job.

    January 12, 2010 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  11. The Lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    Even though I'm sure Mr. Ford is qualified, why would I want a sandbagger from out of state coming here to represent me? He has no intentions of representing the citizens of NY, he only wants to represent the Democratic national party. The citizens of NY deserve better no matter what party you are with. The citizens of NY are not going to want anyone who is in the pockets of special interests, national party committees, PACs, unions, Wall Street, banking, or global corportations.

    January 12, 2010 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  12. Dick Mac

    Gillibrand is useless and does not represent the majority of New Yorkers. She never would have won a Democratic primary, or beaten ANY Republican opponent in an actual Senate race.

    I have every intention of voting against her in the primary, and I look forward to voting for a progressive like Jonathan Tasini, as opposed to yet another carpetbagger like Ford.

    January 12, 2010 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  13. DK

    Seriously? He's running in NEW YORK while having identified as pro-life, spoke out against gay marriage, just ran in Tennessee, and the major factors fueling his entrance in the race are ties to NY's financial elite?

    Game over; Gillibrand has it in the bag

    January 12, 2010 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  14. Obama mama

    Let the best person win! In other words, let the two democrats run against each other. (note: that is one scary photo).

    January 12, 2010 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  15. judy

    Happy to see Ford in the running, would make a great senator!

    January 12, 2010 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  16. terry,va

    Chicago politics at it's worst. They hand picked her and are bad mouthing any one that wants to challenge her. Keep your hand out of state politics Obummie. You can't hand pick all your puppets. The people of the states decide who will represent their states. We have change. Now we have a dictator in charge.

    January 12, 2010 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  17. TCM

    Wow...we don't want to "anger the White House..." AFter all, their agenda is far more important than what's best for the country. So, I guess Obama will have Emanuel dig up dirt, create dirt, or merely threaten Ford to not run. If that doesn't work, I'm sure the ballot-stuffing Acorners and other brainless libs will come to the rescue. The super majority is going to die as fast as it came to life!

    January 12, 2010 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  18. janey

    Harold Ford is a Democrat? Really now, a Democrat? He doesn't have a chance in NY.

    January 12, 2010 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  19. Anonymous

    Go Ford.....

    January 12, 2010 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  20. j

    Ford would be a good representative for any state.

    January 12, 2010 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  21. Jim Miller

    I don't know enough about either candidate
    yet to make an informed decision, but I resent
    the White House's interference in state elections.

    January 12, 2010 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  22. sifto77

    White house again trying to manipulate the senate elections.....

    January 12, 2010 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  23. Dan Smith

    Harold Ford is absolutely right that New Yorkers deserve a free election. The White House is out of line getting involved in a New York candidacy.

    January 12, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  24. Eric

    How could someone from a southern Midwest state have the gall to move to NY in the hopes of poaching a senate seat?

    January 12, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  25. The Quitter from Wasilla

    I like Mr. Ford, but Sen. Gillibrand is doing a good job.

    January 12, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
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