Look out, New York, here comes Harold Ford

Former congressman staffing up for a run at one of the state's Senate seats

By Alex Koppelman
Published January 8, 2010 9:30PM (EST)

Former Rep. Harold Ford Jr., D-Tenn., won't be "bullied or intimidated" out of a race for Senate in New York. That, at least, is what his new spokesman is saying, and that in and of itself is a sign that Ford really might be serious about mounting a primary challenge to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

In addition to the spokesman Ben Smith reports that Ford has also hired a fairly prominent pollster, Doug Schoen, and Bradley Tusk, who was the campaign manager for New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg last year. And it looks like they're gearing up for a fight; here's the full statement that the spokesman, Davidson Goldin, put out:

Harold is not going to be bullied or intimidated. It's good for New York to have a dialogue. It’s good to have credible candidates exploring this race. So what are they so afraid of?

Let’s be clear: New York needs a senator who will fight for jobs fight to improve our economy, fight for small business and have the independence to stand up and do what’s right for our state, regardless of what the party bosses in Albany or Washington want.

But, as Gabriel Winant wrote in this space on Wednesday, Ford -- who's spent his time in politics living on the center and right of the Democratic Party -- is not going to have an easy time in a Democratic primary in one of the country's most liberal states.

The difficulty Ford and his new statff would face was underscored Friday, when NARAL Pro-Choice New York came out swinging against Ford and his position on abortion. The group released a video compilation (viewable below) of some of Ford's comments on the issue, repeatedly emphasizing one in which he said, "I was not pro-choice" and another in which he told Tucker Carlson, "I'm pro-life, I'm pro-life, so I mean, I don't run from that."

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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2010 Elections Harold Ford Jr. Kirsten Gillibrand D-n.y.