A Ford in Senate Future? Memphis Flyer Wants Gillibrand's Job

Harold Ford Jr., the African-American Wall Street exec who likes to come across as the hottest cat from Memphis since Elvis, apparently really does want to snatch that U.S. senate seat away from Kirsten Gillibrand. And there's a fat slice of the permanent government that's ready and eager to help him get there.

That's the story laid out today by the Times'indefatigable Michael Barbaro. The story cites the Times' own big money man, Steven Rattner, as the Tennessee stud's biggest booster. "We think the world of him," Rattner said of himself and his party fundraiser wife Maureen White. Also ready to climb aboard this Ford, says Barbaro, is Rattner pal Mike Bloomberg, who never had much use for Gillibrand in the first place.

Back in November, Glenn Thrush, Politico.com's fedora-topped scribe, reported that someone was running a telephone poll asking voters their preference in a potential Ford-Gillibrand primary. Thrush said the poll didn't appear to have come from Gillibrand, so that leaves....

Thrush, who knows this scene cold, summed up the southern pol this way: "Ford, who represented Memphis from 1997 to 2007, is currently the head of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council and was among the most conservative African-American Democrats to serve in the House in recent years. His positions -- including his opposition to gay marriage and opposition to some abortions -- put him to the right of Gillibrand, who was considered one of the most conservative members of the state's House delegation during her two-plus year tenure as an Albany-area rep."

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One clear message here is that the pro-Ford folks, including former White House appointee Rattner, don't seem too worried about annoying Barack Obama who last year chased Long Island congressman Steve Israel and other potential rivals out of possible primaries against Gillibrand. Ford himself was also viewed as a possible Obama appointee as commerce secretary, according to his hometown alt weekly, the Memphis Flyer.

For those whose chief Ford knowledge stems from those racist ads that helped upend his 2006 campaign for Tennessee's senate seat, there's further interesting info found on his blog, The Ford Report. Ford's latest entry there is an essay on education that's co-bylined with billionaires Eli Broad and Louis Gerstner, the former IBM exec - talk about your fat-cat potential donors! You can also sign up to pre-order his forthcoming book, "More Davids than Goliaths" - which Amazon says isn't due for release until early September, just in time for a senatorial election!


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