Harold Ford: I’m Not Running

Former Rep. Harold Ford (D-TN) announced tonight that he will not be running for Kirsten Gillibrand’s seat in the U.S. Senate.

After traveling the state on a closely watched tour, he told friends that he could prevail but feared that an ugly campaign would leave the winner drained of cash and vulnerable to a Republican challenger at a time when the Democratic Party controls the United States Senate by a slender majority. “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,” Mr. Ford wrote in an opinion article to be published in The New York Times on Tuesday. The possibility of a Senate campaign in New York by the telegenic Mr. Ford, who has been working as a vice chairman of Merrill Lynch and a political commentator on NBC since moving to New York in 2006, had riveted New York’s political world and touched off a furious behind-the-scenes effort to keep him out of the race.

Ford’s decision comes less than a week after he was pretty much booed off the stage by gay activists during a speech at the NYC LGBT Center. Now we wait to see who Gillibrand’s GOP challenger will be. Speculation is running high that it may be billionaire NY Daily News publisher Mort Zuckerman.