Harold Ford Gains Momentum in N.Y.

Monday, 11 Jan 2010 11:00 AM

By Dan Weil

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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s $7 million campaign war chest so far has deterred any other Democrat from challenging her in this year’s New York Senate race.

But now Harold Ford, a former Tennessee congressman, is saying that he might challenge Gillibrand in the Democratic primary.

Ford, who moved to New York three years ago, works for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Gillibrand was appointed to the Senate last year by Democratic Gov. David Paterson to fill the seat Hillary Clinton vacated when she became secretary of State.

Although Eric Schultz, communications director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, describes Gillibrand as “a fund-raising star,” that may not worry Ford, who lost a bid for a Tennessee Senate seat in 2006 to Republican Bob Corker.

Ford said Gillibrand’s support from party bosses such as Charles Schumer won’t sway his decision.

Gillibrand and her aides aren’t taking Ford’s challenge lightly. “They are going into overdrive,” a person with direct knowledge of her campaign told The New York Times. “There is an intense focus on this threat.”

The senator interrupted a family vacation in Europe last week to call Manhattan Democratic Party Chairman Keith Wright, in an effort to garner his support, The Times reported.

Jim Hester, Ford’s campaign manager in 2006, said Ford won’t fear an uphill campaign.

"I think running behind in the popularity polls would not be seen as a deterrent to him," Hester told The Nashville Tennessean.

"I think he'd make his decision based on whether he thought there was a path to victory and whether he wanted to do it or not. But the challenge would not deter him."


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