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"Harold Ford" redirects here. For his father, the congressman from Tennessee from 1975 to 1997, see Harold Ford, Sr.
Harold Ford, Jr.

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 9th district
In office
January 3, 1997 – January 3, 2007
Preceded by Harold Ford, Sr.
Succeeded by Steve Cohen

Born May 11, 1970 (1970-05-11) (age 39)
Memphis, Tennessee
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Emily Threlkeld
Residence New York[1]
Alma mater University of Pennsylvania (B.A.)
University of Michigan Law School (J.D.)
Religion Baptist

Harold Eugene Ford, Jr. (born May 11, 1970) is an American politician and the current chairman of the "centrist" Democratic Leadership Council (DLC).[1] He was a Democratic Party member of the United States House of Representatives from Tennessee's 9th congressional district, centered in Memphis, from 1997 to 2007. Ford did not seek re-election to his House seat in 2006 when he unsuccessfully sought the Senate seat vacated by retiring Bill Frist.


Family and education

Ford is the son of former Congressman Harold Ford, Sr. and Dorothy Bowles Ford.[2] He has three brothers — Jake, Isaac, and Andrew — and one sister, Ava.[3] His family has long been prominent in Memphis' African American community; their influence dates back to the late 19th century, when E.H. Crump, a prominent white Democrat, dominated city and state politics and befriended Harold Ford Sr.'s grandfather, N.J. Ford.[4]

Ford was baptised at his church, Mt. Moriah-East Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee. He attended Double Tree Elementary School, a public Montessori school in South Memphis, and he graduated from the private St. Albans School for Boys, a prestigious university-preparatory school in Washington, D.C.. He received a B.A. in American history from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in 1992.[3] After graduation, he was a staff aide to the Senate Budget Committee, and in 1993 became special assistant at the United States Department of Commerce.[5]

Ford received a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School in 1996. During his campaign for the House of Representatives, he sat for and failed the Tennessee bar exam, stating that he intends to try again.[6]

Ford is married to Emily Threlkeld, who works in public relations for Carolina Herrera in New York. They married on April 26, 2008.[7]

House of Representatives career

When Harold, Sr. decided not to seek a 12th term in Congress in 1996, Harold, Jr. entered the race and became the favorite in the Democratic primary — widely regarded as the real contest in the heavily Democratic, black-majority 9th district. Ford arranged his schedule for his last semester of law school so he would not have Monday or Friday classes[8] and would be able to fly home to Memphis for an extended weekend each week to continue his campaign. As expected, he easily won the Democratic primary, followed by election in November. Taking office at the age of 26, he was the second youngest Congressman in US history, after William C. C. Claiborne. He was reelected four times without substantive Republican opposition by an average of 80 percent of the vote. In 2000, Ford was the keynote speaker for the 2000 Democratic National Convention supporting then Vice President Al Gore for the Democratic nomination for President.[9]

On October 10, 2002, Harold Ford was among the 81 House Democrats who voted in favor of authorizing the invasion of Iraq.

After the 2002 elections resulted in Democrats losing Congressional seats, Ford announced his candidacy for House Democratic Leader, challenging then-House Minority Whip Nancy Pelosi, arguing that current leadership was ineffective.[10] Ford was defeated but exceeded initial expectations in the amount of support he received.[11] Although his name was mentioned as a possible Democratic vice president candidate in 2004,[12] he was ineligible for the office due to his age (four months shy of 35 on Inauguration Day 2005).

A June 7, 2005 article in The Washington Times reported that from 1998 to 2003, Ford took 61 privately funded trips but did not file travel disclosure forms with the House clerk for the trips as required by the chamber's ethics rules until August 2003. Ford's office called the late filing of the reports a "mere oversight," since Ford had filed the required financial-disclosure statements for the trips as they were taken.[13]

In November 2005, when Ohio Republican Congresswoman Jean Schmidt implied that Pennsylvania Democrat John Murtha was a "coward" in response to Murtha's proposal for a redeployment of American forces in Iraq, Ford charged across the House floor to the Republican side during the resulting uproar in the chamber, shouting "Say it to Murtha!" (or "Say Murtha's name!" depending on the source) while waving his finger at Schmidt. He had to be restrained by fellow Democrat Dave Obey of Wisconsin. Like many Democrats, Ford believed Schmidt's remarks (which she later withdrew) were an unwarranted "cheap shot" against Murtha, a veteran of the Marine Corps.[14]

Harold Ford Jr. on the campaign trail

In Congress, Ford supported a ban on benefits for same-sex couples, as well as the Federal Marriage Amendment (which would ban same-sex marriage). He told Democrats they should be more supportive of the Iraq War and criticized Senate Democrats who attempted to filibuster the nomination of Samuel Alito. He was one of the few Democrats who voted for the Bankruptcy Bill, and he supported some restrictions on abortion, defining himself as a pro-life candidate, including supporting a ban on partial-birth abortion. However, one advocacy group found that while in Congress he voted against the pro-life position 87% of the time.[15] He supported the Republican effort to intercede in the Terri Schiavo case.[16] He opposed President George W. Bush's energy proposals (including oil drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge), demonstrated support for adoption rights of same-sex couples, is in favor of federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, supported universal healthcare coverage, opposed the death penalty and indicated a willingness to reform drug policy.[17][18]

In addition, Ford sat on the House Budget Committee and the House Committee on Financial Services. He also served on the Transformation Advisory Group, a group of political, military and academic leaders who worked with the Department of Defense to assess the needs of the armed forces. Ford was a member of the New Democrat Coalition, the Congressional Black Caucus and the Blue Dog Coalition.[3]

In 2002, Ford was mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate for the Senate seat being vacated by Fred Thompson, but he declined to run. Instead, he supported fellow Congressman Bob Clement who would lose to former Republican Governor Lamar Alexander in the general election.[19]

In 2006, Ford did not run for re-election to the House of Representatives, due to his campaign for the United States Senate in Tennessee, which he lost. Instead, his younger brother, Jake Ford, ran for the 9th district seat as an Independent, but lost to Democrat Steve Cohen.

2006 Senate campaign

On April 6, 2005, during an interview on C-SPAN's call-in show Washington Journal, Ford confirmed that he would be running for the Senate.[20] He filed the papers necessary to officially begin his Senate campaign on May 25, 2005.

Democratic State Senator Rosalind Kurita briefly challenged Ford for the nomination but dropped out of the primary because of inadequate fundraising, effectively handing Ford the nomination.[21] On August 3, 2006, Ford overwhelmingly won the Democratic primary. After the primary, Ford's supporters held a large victory celebration at Nashville's LP Field. Among the speakers was former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

Ford faced Republican Bob Corker in the November 2006 election. Not long after Corker's primary victory was assured, Ford challenged Corker to seven televised debates across the state. In response, Corker said he would debate Ford, though he did not agree to seven debates.

In October 2006, as polls indicated that Ford maintained a slight lead in the Senate race,[22] the Republican Party ran a television advertisement[23] where a white woman, played by Johanna Goldsmith, talks about meeting Ford, who was unmarried at the time, at "the Playboy party."[24] The ad was denounced by many people, including former Republican Senator and Secretary of Defense under Bill Clinton, William Cohen, who called it “a very serious appeal to a racist sentiment.” Corker himself asked the Republican leadership to pull the ad, which it refused to do. Corker subsequently pulled ahead in the polls.[25]

Corker and Ford participated in a televised debate in Memphis on October 7, in Corker's hometown of Chattanooga on October 10, and in Nashville on October 28. In January 2006, NBC's Meet the Press extended an open invitation for the candidates to debate on the nationally-televised show.

On November 8, Ford conceded the election to Corker, who defeated Ford by less than three percentage points.[26]

Post-election activities

In December 2006, the Los Angeles Times reported that Ford told students at an L.A.-area school that he might run again in 2008 for the Senate seat held by Republican Lamar Alexander, but in January 2007 Ford said that he had no plans to challenge the incumbent.[27][28] Instead, Ford has said that he "hopes to spend a lot of time at home, perhaps do some teaching and work with Governor Bredesen on some issues in Tennessee."[29]

On January 25, 2007, Ford was named chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council.[30]

In early March 2007, Fox News Channel hired Ford as a "political contributor".[31] In March 2008, he moved to MSNBC, the NBC cable news network as a news analyst, appearing as a panelist on David Gregory's Race for the White House, Hardball, and Morning Joe. [32]

Ford was appointed visiting professor of public policy at Vanderbilt University in 2007 and taught a class on American political leadership.[33] In October 2007, Ford was appointed the inaugural Barbara Jordan Visiting Professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.[34] Ford is currently a visiting professor at New York University's Wagner School of Public Service where he teaches Policy Formation: U.S. Domestic Policy.[35]

Ford has joined the financial services firm Bank of America Merrill Lynch as a vice chairman and senior policy advisor.[36][37]

2010 Election

Ford is currently considering a primary challenge to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in New York in 2010.[1] Sources close to Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York have said that he would consider supporting someone "of Mr. Ford's stature".[1] However, it was also reported that Mayor Bloomberg "reassured Mr. Reid that he was not personally involved in the effort to promote a Ford candidacy."[38] Chuck Schumer has sought to dissuade Ford from running.[38] Ford's spokesperson on January 11, 2010, stated Ford had become a supporter of same-sex marriage after "listening to the debate in state legislatures across the country".[39]

Electoral history

Tennessee's 9th congressional district: Results 1996–2004[40]
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
1996 Harold E. Ford, Jr. 116,345 61% Rod DeBerry 70,951 37% Silky Sullivan Independent 957 1% *
1998 Harold E. Ford, Jr. 75,428 79% Claude Burdikoff 18,078 19% Gwendolyn L. Moore Independent 932 1% *
2000 Harold E. Ford, Jr. 143,298 100% (no candidate) *
2002 Harold E. Ford, Jr. 120,904 84% (no candidate) Tony Rush Independent 23,208 16% *
2004 Harold E. Ford, Jr. 190,648 82% Ruben M. Fort 41,578 18% *
*Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 1996, Mary D. Taylor received 498 votes; Anthony Burton received 424 votes; Greg Voehringer received 327 votes; Tom Jeanette received 222 votes; Del Gill received 199 votes; Bill Taylor received 179 votes; Johnny E. Kelly received 156 votes; Don Fox received 146 votes; and write-ins received 10 votes. In 1998, Johnny Kelly received 775 votes; Greg Voehringer received 567 votes; and write-ins received 2 votes. In 2000, write-ins received 36 votes. In 2002, write-ins received 148 votes. In 2004, Jim Maynard received 166 votes.

2006 Democratic Primary for U.S. Senate (TN)

2006 General Election for U.S. Senate (TN)

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Barbaro, Michael, "Harold Ford Jr. Weighs a Challenge to Gillibrand", The New York Times, January 5, 2010
  2. ^ Reitwiesner, William Addams. "Ancestry of Harold Ford". Retrieved 2007-05-18.  
  3. ^ a b c
  4. ^ de la Cruz, Bonna (2005-08-01). "Political future of Fords hinges on constituents". The Tennessean. Retrieved 2007-05-18.  
  5. ^ "Ford, Harold Jr.". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 2007-05-18.  
  6. ^ Abramson, Roger (2004-06-03). "Harold Ford Jr., Prince of Memphis". Nashville Scene. Retrieved 2007-05-18.  
  7. ^ - Black Entertainment | Black News | Urban News | Hip Hop News
  8. ^ "Harold Ford's Rising Star Heads Toward the Senate". Democratic Party. August 2006. Retrieved 2007-05-18.  
  9. ^ Ferullo, Mike (2000-08-16). "Ford appeals to younger voters in keynote address". CNN. Retrieved 2007-05-18.  
  10. ^
  11. ^ - Democrats pick Pelosi as House leader - Nov. 15, 2002
  12. ^ John J. Miller on Election 2004 & Vice President on National Review Online
  13. ^ Washington Times - Lawmakers dash to correct records of trips
  14. ^ Fineman, Howard, "Bush at the Tipping Point", Newsweek, November 28, 2005
  15. ^ Harold Ford Jr., Is Not Pro-Life
  16. ^ Key Votes by Harold Ford | Congress votes database |
  17. ^ Harold Ford on the Issues
  18. ^
  19. ^ Tipper Gore says no to Senate bid
  20. ^ Search Results
  21. ^ 4/12/2006 - Rosalind Kurita Withdraws From U.S. Senate Race, The Chattanoogan
  22. ^ Tennessee Senate: Ford (D) 48%; Corker (R) 46%, Rasmussen Reports, October 13, 2006.
  23. ^ YouTube - Too Hot For Corker
  24. ^ Tennessee ad ignites GOP squabbling - Politics -
  25. ^ Emery, Theo (March 10, 2006). "Family ties could bind a political advancement". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2007-04-25.  
  26. ^ - Elections 2006
  27. ^ Richard Locker, "Another Senate seat might tempt Ford", The Commercial Appeal, December 11, 2006
  28. ^ "Ford says he has no plans of a Senate bid against Alexander". (Associated Press). 2007-01-23. Retrieved 2007-02-06.  
  29. ^ "Corker sworn in as U.S. Senator". Associated Press. January 4, 2007.   Retrieved on Jan. 7, 2007
  30. ^ DLC (2007-06-07). DLC bio on Ford. Retrieved on 2007-01-25 from
  31. ^ Ford Junior To Become "Fair and Balanced" Commentator :: The Memphis Flyer :: Politics Buzz :: Politics
  32. ^ "Harold Ford Jr. Jumps From FNC to MSNBC". 2008-03-24. Retrieved 2008-03-27.  
  33. ^ Vanderbilt News Service Harold Ford Jr. to be visiting professor of public policy at Vanderbilt; Congressional veteran to teach class on political leadership. 1/15/2007
  34. ^ LBJ School of Public Affairs Announces Appointment of Congressman Harold Ford Jr. Inaugural Barbara Jordan Visiting Professor
  35. ^ Cabrera, Debra (2009-11-05). PNP Course Highlights: Spring 2010. Retrieved from
  36. ^ Keoun, Bradley,Merrill Hires Former U.S. Congressman Ford as Adviser,, February 14, 2007.
  37. ^ Merrill Lynch (2007-02-14). Former Congressman Harold E. Ford, Jr. Joins Merrill Lynch as Vice Chairman. Merrill Lynch press release, 14 February 2007. Retrieved from
  38. ^ a b Barbaro, Michael and Hernandez, Raymond, "Potential Ford Senate Bid Sets Off Scramble", The New York Times, January 7, 2010.
  39. ^ Dicker, Fredric U.; Haberman, Maggie. "Now Harold Ford Jr. backs gay marriage". New York Post. Retrieved January 11, 2010.  
  40. ^ "Election Statistics". Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Retrieved 2007-08-08.  

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Harold E. Ford, Sr.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 9th congressional district

1997 – 2007
Succeeded by
Stephen I. Cohen
Party political offices
Preceded by
Evan Bayh
Keynote Speaker of the Democratic National Convention
Succeeded by
Barack Obama
Preceded by
Tom Vilsack
Governor of Iowa
Chairman of Democratic Leadership Council
Representatives to the 105th–109th United States Congresses from Tennessee
105th Senate: F. Thompson | B. Frist House: B. Gordon | B. Clement | J. Duncan, Jr. | J. Tanner | E. Bryant | V. Hilleary | Z. Wamp | H. Ford, Jr. | W. Jenkins
106th Senate: F. Thompson | B. Frist House: B. Gordon | B. Clement | J. Duncan, Jr. | J. Tanner | E. Bryant | V. Hilleary | Z. Wamp | H. Ford, Jr. | W. Jenkins
107th Senate: F. Thompson | B. Frist House: B. Gordon | B. Clement | J. Duncan, Jr. | J. Tanner | E. Bryant | V. Hilleary | Z. Wamp | H. Ford, Jr. | W. Jenkins
108th Senate: B. Frist | L. Alexander House: B. Gordon | J. Duncan, Jr. | J. Tanner | Z. Wamp | H. Ford, Jr. | W. Jenkins | J. Cooper | M. Blackburn | L. Davis
109th Senate: B. Frist | L. Alexander House: B. Gordon | J. Duncan, Jr. | J. Tanner | Z. Wamp | H. Ford, Jr. | W. Jenkins | J. Cooper | M. Blackburn | L. Davis

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