Democrats Are "Scared"

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on March 2, 2010

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So sayeth Harold Ford, explaining why he decided not to enter the race for the Senate seat in New York currently occupied by Kirsten Gillibrand:

Former Rep. Harold Ford Jr. said Tuesday that Democrats are “scared” heading into this fall’s election and that he decided not to run for the Senate from New York because he feared his party would lose the seat after a tough primary.

“The fall is going to be a tough, tough fall for whatever Democrat emerges,” Ford said during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” his first since announcing Monday night that he is not running. “It would have been a tough brutal fight.”

Ford, who ran unsuccessfully for the Senate from Tennessee in 2006, denied reports that he was scared off by the potential candidacy of Mort Zuckerman — who is believed to have courted many of Ford’s potential fundraisers and supporters — insisting that he would have been able to raise plenty of money regardless of who else entered the race.

“Mort will spend his own money. Mort’s a billionaire,” Ford said. “I wish we could all be billionaires.”

Rather, Ford stuck to the explanation he gave The New York Times on Monday night. “I’m a Democrat, I’m an independent Democrat, and I didn’t want a Republican to win,” he said.

Clearly, there is a lot of self-serving commentary here. But by stating out loud that Democrats are “scared,” Ford only feeds into the conventional wisdom that . . . well . . . Democrats are scared, and on their heels. This naturally causes potential donors to shy away from donating money, depresses the base, and makes a Republican win more likely. Not having a nice word for Kirsten Gillibrand doesn’t help matters.

To be sure, I think the odds are that the Democrats will retain the seat. But Ford’s behavior has given aid and comfort to those who think otherwise, and has potentially changed the dynamics of a Senate race in the fall.

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