Harold Ford in New York?

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January 13, 2010 5:52 a.m.

The notion of Harold Ford, a couple year or so resident of New York, running for Senate against a sitting Democratic senator, albeit an appointed one, is a pretty outlandish one. But often, when someone comes up with something so outlandish and improbable, you figure they know something that maybe you don’t. So does Harold Ford have some angle that makes his possible senate candidacy not seem so ridiculous? Does the alleged support of Michael Bloomberg and his team of funders and associates make the difference?As it happens, I think we have some past history with former Rep. Ford (D-TN) that provides an answer. Remember that back in 2002, after Dick Gephardt retired from the House to run for President and the Dems actually lost seats, Nancy Pelosi, who was the logical person next in line and had all the key House constituencies lined up, ran for Minority Leader. And then Ford, completely out of blue and about as improbably as now with the NY senate race, decided to challenge her.

And how’d it turn out? He got completely crushed. The final vote was Pelosi 177, Ford 29. This strikes me as exactly the same kind of exercise. Ford’s whole politics in Tennessee was based on pressing the outer edges of Democratic orthodoxies to gain crossover votes among Southern white Democrats and moderate Republicans. (And he came close to getting into the senate in 2006, which would have been great.) But those are the outer edges in Tennessee, a really conservative state. Those positions, combined with his effort to run away from those positions, are just going to make him look ridiculous in New York Democratic politics.

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