With campaign aides to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg involved in the "exploratory" U.S. Senate run of Harold Ford Jr., the potential upstart candidate is due to meet in the coming week with Frank MacKay, the Bloomberg-friendly state and Suffolk Independence Party chairman, and with party colleague Gary Melius, at the Melius-owned Oheka Castle in Huntington, sources told Newsday.

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Called for comment, Mac-Kay said: "We're open to meeting all candidates, including challengers, for all statewide offices."

Ford's possible rival, Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, recently visited Oheka for a similar meet-and-greet. - Dan Janison