06 April 2005

Senator Harold Ford Jr (D-TN) !?

Say it ain't so. Tennessee Republicans would be well advised to knock off the inside baseball squabbling right now, and begin building a machine to crush Harold Ford Jr's likely US Senate run. At the risk of sounding negative, it is a bit early to declare Ed Bryant the next Senator from TN. A new poll published at TeamGOP Blog, while very early and of uncertain value, shows Ford to have a decent shot in the general. Should Ford Jr decide to run, the democratic senate primary would be a pro-forma exercise.

Those in the Tennessee GOP who may have missed the last four years or so of national television news coverage because they were too busy arguing over the color of the drapes, what size the negotiating table, or otherwise stabbing each other in the back; should be made aware that Harold Ford Jr is in the running to replace Chuck Schumer of New York as the most dangerous man in Washington DC to be blocking the path to a TV camera. Heads up also to National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee Chair — Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) , as she is charged with maintaining and expanding the GOP majority in the US Senate. Ford Jr has been working very hard to create a national presence out of whole cloth; and to his credit, has had some success in this regard. With all due respect, I have not seen Ed Bryant, Van Hilleary, or Bob Corker doing the same thing.

The Tennessee GOP, and Sen Dole had better understand that the Ford Jr machine owns Memphis proper, and will likely crush any resistance in outlying Shelby County as well. A Ford Jr candidacy will also play well in other intensely urban areas of the state. Chattanooga, Nashville, Knoxville, and maybe Johnson City would all likely be Ford Jr territory. They should also understand that not all, but many of the counties in the westernmost of the grand divisions of the state, can still go democratic. That means a very, very strong turnout in the remaining rural areas is critical if the GOP hopes to maintain control of both senate seats. Divided, bickering Tennessee republicans lead to such unpleasant outcomes as Phil Bredesen gubernatorial victories.

The margins in the poll cited at TeamGOP above are too close for comfort, and should serve as a resounding wakeup call. The TeamGOP post optimistically points out that the poll shows Ed Bryant beating Ford Jr, however the poll also shows such a "victory" is not outside the 4.0 point plus or minus margin. Little comfort should be taken from a two point margin at this stage, especially by someone with as little name recognition as Bryant enjoys. If he is the nominee, which remains to be seen, due to the internecine bickering mentioned above.

Likely Voters
Harold Ford, Jr.............. 30%
(Lean Ford, Jr.)............. 8
Ed Bryant .................... 30
(Lean Bryant) ............... 10

Likely FordJr, and Leaning FordJr 38%--

Likely Bryant, and Leaning Bryant 40%--

When such a slim margin is factored with Ford Jr's national efforts, it portends a dangerous scenario for the GOP. It is not hard to imagine Ford Jr rallying support of other prominent national democratic figures to secure a Senate seat. Make no mistake, the national press (MSM) is enamored of the telegenic representative from Tennessee's ninth congressional district. As such, he is very much capable of arousing the kind of national press and support that IL Democratic Senator Barack Obama enjoyed this past fall. Here's a prediction: look for the MSM to fawningly cast Ford Jr as "the-next-Barack-Obama".

How does this sound for Memphis/Nashville fundraiser guest list: former President and NY junior Senator, Mrs Clinton. IL Democratic Senator Barack Obama. Democratic party chair Howard Dean. Former Democratic Presidential candidate Rev. Al Sharpton. MD Democratic Senatorial hopeful Kweisi Mfume. Oprah, the usual list of democratic hangers on, etc.

Note to TN GOP. WAKE UP! ! ! ! Do NOT underestimate a Ford Jr senate candidacy. A similar meme is sounded at the excellent blog South End Grounds. At this point, it appears the statewide GOP plan with regard to Ford Jr's US Senate run is to sit back and hope his uncle, TN State Senator John Ford implodes and takes Harold Jr down with him. Such a plan is insufficient to the task at hand.

Such a narrow margin, while early and of unknown origin, demonstrates that the Tennessee GOP needs to unite behind one candidate now and treat the Ford Jr Senate candidacy with the seriousness it deserves. Failure to do so could lead to a very unpleasant outcome: Senator Harold Ford Jr (D-TN). Instead of providing comfort, the above poll should be sounding alarms. -SpinDaddy