Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Ford's out, won't challenge Gillibrand in New York

"Independent" Democrat Harold Ford Jr. has decided not to challenge New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. As he writes in an op-ed in today's Times:

I've examined this race in every possible way, and I keep returning to the same fundamental conclusion: If I run, the likely result would be a brutal and highly negative Democratic primary -- a primary where the winner emerges weakened and the Republican strengthened.

I refuse to do anything that would help Republicans win a Senate seat in New York, and give the Senate majority to the Republican.

How thoughtful of him. And how full of shit. He says some of the right things, without ever saying much at all -- he is a man seemingly without principles, a man whose positions on the issues, such as health-care reform, shift according to political expediency, a man whose candidacy, in Jonathan Chait's words, would have been "an epiphenomenon of Wall Street's retreat into a fantasy world -- but he is nothing if not an egotist. Sure, he would have beaten Gillibrand, but "the party bosses" got in the way, trying to "intimidate" him against running. Sure, he gets how "tough" it is out there -- like he really knows -- but he won't run because it's too important that he not. Not that any of it is his fault, of course.

As I've written before, I wasn't exactly much of a Gillibrand fan when Gov. David Paterson appointed her to replace Hillary Clinton last year, but my sense since then is that she's done fairly well. Indeed, I have come to like her a great deal, particularly her admirable leadership on DADT repeal. She deserves to remain in office, and she'll need the full weight of her party behind her if she is to beat the likely Republican candidate, former Gov. George Pataki.

As for Ford, did New York really need yet another carpetbagger (sorry, Hillary), and a centrist, self-serving, Lieberman-like (i.e., thorn in Democrats' sides, often more Republican than Democrat) one at that, one with close ties to Wall Street, one who was being pushed to run by prominent, NYC-oriented donors and insiders who don't like, and who look down upon, Gillibrand's upstate credentials? Certainly not. New York doesn't, the Senate doesn't, and the Democratic Party doesn't.

(In New York, as The Albany Project's Adama Brown writes, "Ford's candidacy represented a money-first view of politics," and his "timely demise" is "a win for the fledgling pro-reform movement in New York State politics," the movement that opposes a free-for-all system that "allow[s] a disturbing amount of power to be wielded by a relatively small number of people who have money to burn.")

As Adam Bink writes at Open Left, "Ford will go back to his private helicopter tours of NYC, his breakfasts at the Regency Hotel with the Giants and Jets owners, his pedicures and multi-million dollar bonuses -- all times ten. One thing the moneyed political set loves is a media star and for his personal life, perhaps Ford as 'the-guy-who-threatened-to-run-but-chose-not-to-for-the-sake-of-the-party' is the path he's wanted all along."

It can't be good riddance, and it's simply disgusting that Ford will continue to profit mightily from his lucrative connections (and from selling out and cozying up to Wall Street), but at least he's not running. We need to get behind Gillibrand, who is the right Democrat for the job, and a real Democrat at that.

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