Harold Ford, who publicly flirted with a primary challenge to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, has decided not to run.
Ford, a former Tennessee congressman, spent nearly two months acting like a candidate, touring the state, meeting with political players and launching a near-daily barrage of attacks against Gillibrand, who lobbed her share of bombs his way as well.
In an op-ed announcing his decision, which was published Monday night on The New York Times’ Web site, Ford continued railing against the party establishment that had lined up against his candidacy.
“Democratic Party insiders started their own campaign to bully me out of the race,” Ford wrote. “The cruel twist, of course, is that the party bosses who tried to intimidate me so that I wouldn’t even think about running against Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who had been appointed to the seat by Gov. David A. Paterson, are the same people responsible for putting Democratic control of the Senate at risk.”
He concluded, he wrote, that a bruising primary would hurt the party’s chances in November. He did not endorse Gillibrand in the op-ed and his aides would not say if he plans to.
Ford only became a full-time resident of New York last year and in addition to opposition from party stalwarts like Sen. Charles Schumer and most of the state’s county chairmen, he trailed Gillibrand in the polls.
A spokesman for Gillibrand released a statement Monday that did not mention Ford by name.
“Sen. Gillibrand has shown that she takes a back seat to no one when it comes to fighting for New York and no matter who her opponent is this fall, she will wage a vigorous campaign on her strong record and her vision for New York,” said spokesman Glen Caplin.
As the quasi-campaign dragged on for the past months, Ford twice delayed his own deadline for making a decision, saying most recently that he would announce by Monday.
“It doesn’t surprise me, he was taking too long to decide,” said former Mayor Ed Koch, who supported Ford.
Koch speculated Ford, 39, might take another stab at elected office, “when he decides he wants to put his life’s energy into running.”