Ford Drops NY Senate Seat Bid

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WASHINGTON - Harold E. Ford, Jr., former Democratic congressman from Tennessee, will not challenge Republican Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in the September primary, according to a report in The New York Times.

Gillibrand was appointed by Governor David Patterson to fill the senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton when she became secretary of state.

Following a statewide tour, Ford, 39, concluded that the campaign could do more harm than good to the Democratic party.

"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," Ford wrote in an op-ed posted on the Times Web site on Monday night.

"I refuse to do anything that would help Republicans win a Senate seat in New York and give the Senate majority to the Republicans," he wrote.

According to Ford, Democratic "party bosses who tried to intimidate me" are the "same people responsible for putting Democratic control of the Senate at risk."

Ford, who succeeded his father's 22-year tenure as Tennessee's congressman, served for a decade before moving to New York in 2006. 

He took a leave of absence as vice president of Merrill Lynch & Co. to weigh his chances in the New York primaries in September. Ford lost a bid for the U.S. Senate in 2006.

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