Ford Eyes Gillibrand Challenge; Schumer Eyes Ford (And Not in a Good Way)

  • Share
  • Read Later

Kristen Gillibrand may not have been their first choice to fill Hillary Clinton’s New York Senate seat (ahem, Caroline Kennedy) but the White House is sticking by her after former five-term Tennessee Rep. Harold Ford told the New York Post exclusively (note the interesting choice of Gotham publications for a Democrat):

It’s true: I am strongly considering running for the United States Senate.

I do so because our best as a nation has always come when we test our ideas and ourselves, and when we trust competition to refine the steel of our convictions and the truth of our arguments.

Some have already questioned whether I should be running.

Others are falsifying my record in public life.

New Yorkers deserve a free election.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked about Ford’s candidacy yesterday. And, even though they no longer are that psyched about the guy who picked her, Gibbs’ support for Gillibrand was unequivocal:

Q    Robert, it looks like Harold Ford is very serious about jumping into the Senate race in New York.  What’s the White House’s position on having a candidate like Harold Ford run for that Senate seat?

MR. GIBBS:  Look, I think the White House is quite happy with the leadership and the representation of Senator Gillibrand in New York, and as many are in the DSCC, we’re supporting her reelection.

Q    And how would you handicap the chances of Rahm and Senator Schumer to clear the field this time around?

MR. GIBBS:  Stay tuned.

Certainly, New York is no stranger to carpet baggers (hello, Hillary Clinton) and Ford is being encouraged to run by a group of top Democratic fundraisers led by financier Steven Rattner and his wife, Maureen White; Merryl Tisch, chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents whose husband James runs Loews Corp.; and Richard Plepler, head of our sister company HBO, according to the New York Times. The Times also noted that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has not had the best relations with Gillibrand – an upstate New Yorker, is open to Ford’s candidacy. Many Manhattan progressives have been leery of Gillibrand’s conservative stances on gun control and immigration.

The possible entry into the race of Ford, whom Chuck Schumer once recruited to run for former Tennessee Senator Bill Frist’s seat, comes after New York’s senior senator spent the last six months painstakingly clearing the field. New York Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, for example, was furious with Governor David Paterson’s selection of Gillibrand and swore from the get go she’d challenge her. McCarthy, who lost her husband in a Long Island Railroad shooting, has long disagreed with Gillibrand’s championing of the second amendment. It took Schumer months to get McCarthy to back down only to see Ford now pop up. But, as Ford likely already knows, if there is a world champion at Whack-a-Mole Schumer would be it.