Friday, January 15, 2010


Via Steve Benen, I see this from Taegan Goddard:

Former Rep. Harold Ford (D-TN) may be planning an independent bid in New York for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

Two key factors:

* Ford is primarily being advised by close advisers to independent Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

* Ford's recent rhetoric of being "independent" from Democratic leaders makes little sense in a Democratic primary.

However, it was a conversation with someone in Ford's inner circle that convinced me this might be his ultimate strategy. If New York Republicans run a weak candidate, he could essentially follow the Joe Lieberman path to the Senate....

On Morning Joe today, Ford responded to this with a non-denial denial:

"I'm a proud Democrat, and I think i'm going to remain that," he said. "I think Democrats are looking for a stand-up, independent guy to represent them in this race... So, in that sense, I would run as an independent."

Whatever the hell that means.

Speaking of Lieberman, TBogg notes that Ford's spokesman says Ford would serve in the Senate as an "independent Democrat." Yeah, that phrase sounds familiar.

But wait -- if this is what Ford is thinking, could it possibly work?

On the one hand, Lieberman was well positioned for a third-party run in 2006 because he started the year with a 62%-24% approval-disapproval rating in Connecticut. Ford's rating in New York, by contrast, is "Hunh? Who?"

Lieberman won in large part because the GOP took a dive -- the candidate on the Republican line barely campaigned, because the GOP decided that taking a dive was the best way to keep Lamont out of the seat (a correct assessment). The New York GOP has had a hard time recruiting candidates for this race, so the same thing might well happen in this race, especially if they think he'll play ball with them (which he probably would, even as the Dems masochistically allowed him to caucus with them.)

But wait -- what about the teabaggers? Aren't they going to insist on having a totally pure candidate to vote for?

Well, good luck with that, kids, if the state GOP doesn't agree. New York has notoriously awful ballot access laws -- hell, John McCain was almost kept off the ballot in parts of the state in the 2000 presidential primary.

But I don't really believe the teabag movement is about ideas or political phiolosophy. I think it's about hating Democrats and liberals.

So if Ford positions himself as the anti-Democrat (he'll say he's the anti-establishment Democrat), then he'll probably get teabag votes. But I think he'll need to remake himself again -- in that New York Times interview a couple of days ago, when he wasn't talking about helicopters and pedicures, he was trying to establish his sorta-Democratic bona fides by advocating gay marriage, claiming the pro-choice mantle, and praising the communist/fascist Cash for Clunkers program (as well as the proposed Cash for Caulkers). Is he going to have to drop that kind of talk and flip-flop back to the kind of guy he was in Tennessee? If so, can we call that a flop-flip?

Can it work? Who the hell knows? But if there's anyone stupid enough to fall for a flip-flop-flip and to vote for a fat-cat banker in the midst of a banker-caused recession, it's teabaggers. Let's just hope the state doesn't have very many of them.


Meanwhile, via TBogg, enjoy this:

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