Let me start this post off by saying that both Senator Gillibrand and Harold Ford are, in my mind, less-than-ideal candidates. Forced to choose, however, I would have gone with Ford. Despite his socially conservative voting record when he was a Tennessee congressman, his about-face in terms of gay marriage and abortion, even if insincere, would be something he would have had to stay true to if he wanted a second term because of the attention it garnered. I see Gillibrand as a rookie thrown into the major leagues before being fully prepared, essentially following Chuck Schumer around like a lost puppy trying to find her bearings. I was looking forward to a primary in which Gillibrand's lackluster and un-noteworthy performance in the Senate was challenged.
Obviously that will not be happening because Ford has, surprisingly in my opinion, dropped out of the race for the Democratic primary before even entering it. Despite his tough talk about taking on party bosses and the change rhetoric, Ford has, in the end, turned out to be just like any other politician, hedging his bets while trying to come out on top. Essentially, it all comes down to money, as there is no way he would be able to catch up to Gillibrand's coffers, even with all of his rich friends.
But what I found most disingenuous about the way Ford handled this whole thing is the way he's leaving it. He states that he left because he does not want to damage the party in a rough-and-tumble primary, stating, "I refuse to do anything that would help Republicans win a Senate seat in New York, and give the Senate majority to the Republicans."
His actions, however, speak differently. In phone calls with supporters and those who had urged him to run, he said that while he would have won the primary, he's not going to try. The same way I could beat Lebron James 1-on-1, but I feel I don't have to prove it.
Ford also has allowed advisers of his to trash Gillibrand, stating that privately several upstate mayors question her ability, and he even stated himself that voters cannot "name a single positive outcome from her." This is not really talk that weakens the yet-unnamed Republican opponent.
Ford would have faced a tough primary with Gillibrand, and he knows it, hence why he is not running. If he truly felt he could win, you think he'd be sitting on the sidelines? He just does not want to go into it and come out a loser. So he thinks talking trash from the stands is a better move for his image.
So Gillibrand seems to be in smooth waters for the Democratic nomination (New York is not exactly breeding winners at the moment). So unless she kicks back and allows some Republican hunk with a cool jacket and a pickup truck from a failed car company to out-campaign her, it looks like Gillibrand will become an elected senator.
Photo - Harold Ford looking pensive (MediaBistro)