A close advisor to former Congressman Harold Ford Jr. met with prominent Tennessee Democratic Party officials recently to talk about Ford’s interest in running for governor in 2010.
Michael Powell, who was a senior advisor to Ford during last year’s unsuccessful try at the U.S. Senate, met with top state Democrats which included state Party Chairman Gray Sasser, former Chairman Randy Button, former Deputy Gov. Dave Cooley and a high ranking official within Gov. Phil Bredesen’s administration.
The main topic discussed in the meetings is Ford’s interest in running for governor in 2010.
Powell couldn’t be reached for comment. But Tom Lee, a Nashville attorney who advised Ford during the Senate campaign, sat in on one of the meetings and said Ford is “deeply interested in public service.”
“And we felt it was important to let people know that he is seriously looking at running for governor in 2010,” Lee said.
“A lot of people have been asking him what his thoughts were, and Harold has always been straightforward with people about that, and so he wanted to be straightforward about this,” Lee said.
Powell also had lunch last week with John Geer, a Vanderbilt University political science professor who currently teaches a class with Ford on the presidential primary process.
Geer said the lunch wasn’t specifically focused on Ford running for governor — more reminiscing about the 2006 election.
But running for governor is something that Ford is “thinking about seriously,” Geer said, and is one of his options.
“It’s something he’s entertaining as a possibility, and it makes sense that he would,” Geer said. “I think he’d be a strong candidate.”
In late July, at the Democratic Leadership Council’s gathering in Nashville, Ford, the DLC’s chairman, was asked to respond to a July 3 squib in the New York Post where he apparently said he was “gonna be governor.”
Ford said his grammar was “much better than that” and he didn’t “respond to gossip.”
But during his speech later at the DLC conference, after saying that he saw how nice Gov. Phil Bredesen’s house was, Ford said that he was going to “mark that down as I go forward.”
Ford running for governor could possibly cause a confrontation with U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis (D-Pall Mall), Ford’s former campaign chairman.
Prior to Ford losing his Senate race, Davis’ name had been associated with seeking the Democratic nomination in 2010 for the governorship.
Now, the pair could either face a primary contest or more likely, one or the other would decide not to run.
“Of all the contenders, Ford is the heavyweight because he has the name recognition,” Geer said.
When asked about Davis already being interested in running, Lee said that the governor’s race is three years away, no one is a candidate yet, and the Ford camp wanted “people to know that he is seriously considering the race.”
“That’s where his thoughts are right now,” Lee said. “And that was the only thing we were tying to communicate.”
Ford spoke this past weekend to the National Rifle Association.