Ford's Mounting Woes
Bad news continues for Harold Ford Jr in the form of more fallout from his non-appearance at Saturday's Shelby County Democratic Party convention. (And we still don't know where he was that was more important. Anyone want to say?) Via Mama Said There'd Be Days Like This blog (a Democratic activist) I learned about Ken Neill'splea and admonishment to Ford to explain himself and straighten up. Neill is the publisher of the Memphis Flyer and a delegate to the SCDP convention.
The Flyer has been engaged in attempted course corrections for Ford since last year. The most famous is Jackson Baker's "clearing up" of Ford's "position" on Social Security reform and private accounts. Ford was deliberately being vague, in order to sway some moderates; Baker reportedly angered Ford with his smoke-clearing.
With this letter, Ford has open revolt following on a snub of his candidate for Chair of the SCDP Saturday. It's a bad week for Young Master Harold. I'm more than a bit surprised it isn't making the press rounds nor being ballyhooed in the right-side blogosphere. Ford absolutely must have Shelby County locked up if he's going to win the Senate race in '06. He can't win without it, and his job is harder if we're perceived as not being behind him.
Add to this the problems for Shelby County Democrats with the Tennessee Waltz investigation (with promises of more to come) and the introduction of new, motivated Executive Committee members not interested in "business as usual" and you have a volatile mix. Ford is likely angry or disappointed at having to do this kind of base-work after so many years, as it will take time and energy off the fight against the Republicans.
Not to mention that national Democrats and the mainstream media are paying attention (link via Adam Groves). Ford has been a media darling up to now, but how will it look for him to have to struggle in his own backyard? Or will the national press even notice, much less report, the truth on the ground here? Will we see flocks of Democrats from around the country flying in to tell us, carpet-bagger style, what to do? That will only backfire on Ford in a terrible way. Tennesseans are tetchy that way. Remember how "native son" and media darling Al Gore didn't even carry his home state in his failed Presidential run?
Ford is increasingly finding himself in quicksand.
Chris Jackson of the unofficial Ford support blog (and another Democratic political activist) thinks Neill's actions are wrong:
Let it be known that Ken Neil has a vendetta against Congressman Ford. It appears Ken doesn't like the Congressman's 'moderate' views, which I guess are just too mainstream for him. Ken should be ashamed for using his paper to attack the Congressman. Journalism is supposed to be about facts--not about personal vendetta's or the advancement of one's own political interests.I disagree. It's good to see a paper and its publisher be upfront about their partisanship. It's honest and that's only to the good.
But how will the rest of the state's media cover this? They have been noted in the past for ignoring what Tennesseans really think in order to unite behind what they want you to think. Look at the uniform negative coverage of the Income Tax Wars of 2001/2. Every newspaper in the state lined up behind Sundquist and Naifeh to boost "tax reform." Every newspaper in the state used the "rock throwing, horn honking mob" label for the ordinary citizens who descended on Nashville to stop it.
My guess right now is that these things will be papered over in scant coverage. "Early days" will be the excuse. Ford will continue as though nothing wrong is occuring.
Of course, I predicted that the Tennessee Waltz investigations and the other allegations against John Ford involving TennCare would have Harold Ford quietly dropping out of the race by now. It might still happen but I seem to have been wrong there. So, we'll see.
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Shout-outs to Bill Hobbs and Blogging for Bryant readers too. Both are great blogs for Tennessee Republican poltical coverage.
BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE: Now it seems Representative Ford has gone into damage control mode!