January 12th, 2010
11:10 AM ET
5 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


Filed under: Uncategorized
soundoff (78 Responses)
  1. Houff

    Just wondering what Harry Reid might have to say about Mr. Ford...

    January 12, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  2. Steve

    And who in Tennessee would vote for this guy for the Senate? Please...

    January 12, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  3. Pragmatic

    The democrats have a big tent ... at least Ford won't have to put up with the sleazy rove/GOP lies ... and NYS Democrats aren't as easily fooled as some of our southern folks ... remember the whisper in SC about "McCain's black baby" ??? I sure would rather have had McCain in the White House back then ...

    as it stands now ... may the best man/woman win ...

    January 12, 2010 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  4. Jane/Seattle

    If we could ask Thomas Jefferson and other framers of our Constitution what they would think of politics today, they'd say that nepotism, power purchasing, and family ascendency are not Constitutional! It is not by wealth or family privilege that the vision that shaped this nation was intended. This is exactly what we have always had and this is why America is going down into history as a failed state now.

    We need to be encouraged to build a 3rd or 4th political party in order to stop what is currently and forever eroding our "democracy"! Were these elites not trying to prevent freedom we could see a totally different climate and real Change – The Kind We Voted FOR, President Obama! Whatever happened to Main Street? We're still paying for the largesse of these ruling classes! This guy represents more of the SAME, SAME, SAME! Insiders calling the shots and getting paid for their time generously at our exppense.

    January 12, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  5. Jack

    Harold Ford is a smart politician with an understanding of complex issues which face every day New Yorkers. Plus he's very articulate, well-groomed, seemingly intelligent, and not threatening in appearance.

    To those of you want to discredit Ford because of his race I say shame on you.

    January 12, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  6. joel T.

    Hey citizens of New York,

    Being a life long resident of Tennessee I am asking that you watch your backside when it comes to Harold Ford, Jr.

    The only reason he has come to your great state is because he had NO CHANCE of ever being elected down here in Tennessee thanks to his "criminally enhanced" political pedigree.

    His uncle is in the slammer for taking bribes and his aunt... I forget her name but if I'm not mistaken SHE was put out of office for some less than stellar actions her self.

    Who ever he runs against is who I would vote for... Unless his name is Ford too.

    January 12, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  7. twitwits are the new nitwits

    Is he another trojan horse from an antiAmerican State, sent in to destroy some future legislation?

    January 12, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  8. RCasson

    I'll support him. He's almost as sexy as President Obama. YUM!

    January 12, 2010 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  9. stevegee

    Put it in high-gear and run Ford!

    The PropOganda Machine doesn't want you to because they'd like to keep pulling the strings of their puppet Gillibrand.

    People voted for "change" in 2008, but not a change to Socialism. Ford is a true Democrat like my grandmother supported her whole life. The liberal progressives in Washington are marxists masquarading as Democrats.

    November 2010 will be a landslide victory for the conservative movement.

    January 12, 2010 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  10. zago

    Good luck Mr. H Ford. You are a decent and reasonable man. I strongly believe that you are a reliable and skillful democrat. You've got something to bring on the table. All the best!

    January 12, 2010 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  11. GJ

    Stop wasting time and money on an intra-party fight which will accomplish nothing. This is about ambition for him. I know, shocking.

    January 12, 2010 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  12. billy123

    Former Rep. Ford please do not run for the Senate in New York. Please a divided party will only help the Republicans in November 2010.

    If you choose to run for the Senate please run in Tenn. I thought you ran a great campagin in your last try.

    January 12, 2010 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  13. E.P. Sato

    Why does everyone feel as if it's cool to carpetbag up to New York? It was one thing for Hilary Clinton to run, she had national name recognition.

    Ford had a lot of things going in his favor for his Senate run and still lost in his home state. Why would he fare better in a state where he's a virtual unknown and running against an incumbent from his own party?

    If he wants to run for NY's Senator, he should build up some New York bonafides first.

    January 12, 2010 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  14. good2know

    Yankees 4 Ford! I support and will fundraise for Congressman Ford if chooses to enter the race. May the best candidate win.

    January 12, 2010 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  15. JA/TN

    get a job man

    January 12, 2010 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  16. Moderate

    I have great respect for Harold Ford; however, Senator Gillibrand is doing a great job representing New Yorkers and should retain her seat.

    January 12, 2010 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  17. Retired Army in San Antonio

    He'd make a good Senator.

    January 12, 2010 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  18. jenn, philadelphia

    I thought New York was a large-population state. Is there a reason they have to hire outside for Senators?

    January 12, 2010 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  19. Linda

    If I wanted the Democrats to lose this seat for sure, I'd say go for it Ford, Jr. But even I'm not that desperate.

    Harold Ford Jr is such a loser, sell out and unprincipled Pol., I wouldn't want to risk the chance that he actually get in.

    IMO, he has just cemented Kirsten's Primary seat.

    January 12, 2010 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  20. John, Brooklyn, NY

    Great idea. Gillibrand was a bad idea, initiated by a bad governor.

    January 12, 2010 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  21. the system stinks!

    What is this? This isn't news? You's are just a bunch of left wing marxist socialists!

    January 12, 2010 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  22. SocialismBad

    I must have missed the big announcement that the Obama Administration also gets run state elections along with the banks, AIG, GM, Chrysler, healthcare, etc.

    I guess the people of New York are just too stupid to decide on who should represent them in the Senate!

    January 12, 2010 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  23. Obama 2.0

    He should win!

    January 12, 2010 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  24. John

    OF course the WH is happy she is being a yes man to the the President and not doing what the people of NY want her to do. She will lose in a election.

    January 12, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  25. Shayne in NH

    Dude, he looks like an android in that picture. Where is your surrogate, Mr. Ford?

    January 12, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
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