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Profile of Harold Ford, Jr., U.S. Senate Candidate from New York

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Profile of Harold Ford, Jr., U.S. Senate Candidate from New York

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Rep. Harold Ford, Jr., U.S. Senate Candidate from New York:

Ford, a 5-term Congressman from 1997 to 2007, has announced that he is considering running for New York's U.S. Senate seat in 2010. Ford was Tennessee's 2006 Democratic nominee, a race he narrowly lost despite his opponent's racist-tinged campaign.

In January 2006, Ford was named Chair of Democratic Leadership Council, an influential think tank for moderate Democrats, and was a active member of the House's Blue Dog Democrats. He delivered the keynote address at the 2000 Democratic Convention, and brashly opposed Nancy Pelosi in 2002 for House Minority Leader.

Tennessee's 2006 Senate Race:

Tennessee's 2006 Senate race pitted Ford against Republican Bob Corker, former mayor of Chattanooga. With a state population of only 16% African-Americans, Ford had difficulty winning over conservative, rural voters in red-state Tennessee. The race was close, despite Republican TV ads with thinly veiled racist references. Fellow southerner Bill Clinton, as well as then Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, campaigned for Ford.

Harold Ford, Jr. on the Issues:

Ford's Congressional voting on the issues reflected independent centrist thinking. He supported embryonic stem cell research, voted against the Patriot Act, and strongly supported public health and education. He opposed NSA warrantless spying, but was an early supporter of the Iraq War. He then also opposed gay marriage and laid claim to being pro-life.

In 2010, though, Ford moved away from his opposition to both gay marriage and staunchly pro-life stances. Interestingly, in 2010, Ford opposes the proposed health care reform legislation, and supported bailouts of Wall street as "the lifeblood" of New York.

Harold Ford, Jr. in Congress:

Ford's first Congressional stint was at age 22 as staff aide in 1992 to the Senate Budget Committee, followed by a 1993 gig as special assistant at the Department of Commerce. Ford, Jr, was elected to the House in 1996, just months after law school, to fill the seat vacated by his retiring father. He sat for the bar exam in 1998, and failed to pass.

While in the House, Ford was an active member of the Blue Dog Democrats, a coalition of centrist, pro-business Democrats.

House of Representatives Committees & Affiliations:

  • House Budget Committee
  • House Committee on Financial Services
  • House Subcommittee on Financial Institutions
  • House Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance & Gov't Sponsored Enterprises
  • The Blue Dog Coalition (fiscally moderate Democrats)
  • Congressional Black Caucus
  • Democratic Leadership Council (centrist Democrats)
  • Transformation Advisory Group (bipartisan advisors from industry, academia, and government to the US military Joint forces Command)

Personal Data:

  • Birth - May 11, 1970 in Memphis, Tennessee, one of five children born to Rep. Harold Ford, Sr. and Dorothy Ford. For generations, the Ford family has been prominent in Memphis society and wealthy leaders of the funeral industry in Memphis' black community.

  • Education - St. Albans School for Boys, Washington, D.C.; B.A. in American History, University of Pennsylvania, 1992; J.D., University of Michigan Law School, 1996.

  • Family - Married on April 26, 2008 to Emily Threlkeld, a New York fashion executive. Ford moved to New York in 2007 after he became engaged to Threlkeld.

  • Faith - Baptist

The Harold Ford, Jr. Persona:

Ambitious and stubborn, Ford has occasionally been accused of elitist attitudes that may stem from his privileged upbringing and movie-star looks. Prior to his 2007 engagement, Ford led a colorful bachelor life, often finding his name in the New York gossip columns.

Rep. Harold Ford, Sr. and the Ford Family Dynasty:

Harold Ford, Sr., one of 15 children of an Irish mother and part Native American father, joined the family's prosperous mortuary business before politics. After 4 years in state politics, Ford won 10 terms to the House, before stepping aside for Harold Jr. Accused of corruption, Ford was tried and acquitted in 1990 on bank fraud charges. He spends his retirement years at homes in The Hamptons and Miami.

The Ford Family Dynasty and Scandals:

Harold Ford, Jr. hails from an enormous, colorful family, including 91 first cousins. Seven Fords have held political office, 3 who were indicted of federal charges. One, Uncle Emmitt, was convicted in 1981 on insurance fraud. Uncle John, the most notorious Ford with 3 ex-wives, 12 children, loads of messy entanglements and a penchant for speeding while toting a gun, awaits trial on bribery charges.

Memorable Quotes about Harold Ford, Jr.:

"He is, in the tradition of Southern pols ranging from Huey Long to Bill Clinton, a preternaturally gifted campaigner. Young, single, handsome in a way that pols almost never are (he is the only elected official I've ever seen who could have a successful career as a model), blessed with a perfect ear for both political argument and the exigencies of local politics, Ford is a sight to behold."
-- Washington Post op-ed columnist Harold Meyerson, on August 23, 2006

"Listen to Ford talk, and he is the very measure of a modern Southern Democrat. His voting record, however, tells a slightly different tale. Ford is among the most liberal members of the Tennessee delegation, with a lifetime rating of 20 (on a scale of 0 to 100, 100 being arch-conservative) from the American Conservative Union. The ratings index for that group’s liberal counterpart, the Americans for Democratic Action, reflects the same thing, just in reverse... "
-- Metro Pulse, a Knoxville newspaper, on June 3, 2004

"... progressive blacks, including the 18 members of the Congressional Black Caucus that belong to the Congressional Progressive Caucus, are loathe to confront treason in the ranks, and thus allow malefactors like Harold Ford to work their show for the rich white corporate folks, without political penalty. Ford’s constituents in Memphis don’t even know that he’s stabbing them in the back. "
-- The Black Commentator, on January 6, 2005

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