Now Ford is poised for an unusual and risky gambit to re-enter elected politics. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, appointed last year to fill the seat vacated by now-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, will stand for re-election in November. Ford, who recently moved to New York, is publicly considering challenging Gillibrand in the Democratic primary. He would have to overcome his moderate record in Tennessee, skepticism from national Democrats (the White House publicly opposes a challenge from Ford), and the perception that he is a carpetbagger in New York. Is he? Or could a Ford campaign, however unlikely to win, actually help Democrats?
- Why I Would Run In the New York Post, Ford explains his motivations. "[O]ur best as a nation has always come when we test our ideas and ourselves, and when we trust competition to refine the steel of our convictions and the truth of our arguments," he writes. " I know New York is unique. No other state is so engaged in the great issues facing our nation. [...] In my three years here, I've learned that New York does not go along to get along. New York does not follow. New York is where the nation learned to lead, build and grow."
- A 'Longshot' And That's Too Bad The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza calls the bid a "longshot," writing "there seems to be little belief that Ford will ultimately get into the race." That's too bad, he writes. "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."
- Challenge Would Strengthen Dems The New York Times urges Ford to go ahead with the run. "The last thing voters of New York State need is a coronation instead of a choice." Regarding skeptical Democrats, they note that a Ford spokesman "pointedly asked, 'So what are they afraid of' It is a good question, a veiled accusation that Ms. Gillibrand is not ready to compete. It is a point that New York Republicans will enjoy making if they can find a candidate strong enough to make it a real race in November."
- Too Far To Turn Back The Nashville Post's A.C. Kleinheider warns that Ford can't go home again. "Whether or not Harold Ford Jr. pulls the trigger on a Democratic primary challenge to U.S. Senator Kristen Gillibrand, one thing is certain: Harold Ford Jr. can’t go home again. While carpetbagging can work in New York, a failed carpetbagger returning home with a tail between his legs wouldn’t go over well. By changing his voter registration, declaring himself pro-choice and pro-gay marriage, Ford Jr. has effectively disqualified himself from Tennessee politics."
- He Has NY Roots--The Wrong Kind The Nation's Ari Berman worries that Ford would represent "Wall Street" and other financial interests in New York, to the detriment of the rest of the state. "Just what we need--another senator in Washington representing Wall Street and corporate America!" he writes. "I have a very hard time believing those views will fly in much of New York."