Former Tennessee lawmaker and possible Senate candidate Harold Ford Jr. claims his rival is using "underhanded tactics" to keep his name off the ballot. According to the New York newcomer, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has been trying to convince county Democratic Party chairs to endorse her before the May nominating convention, making it difficult for Ford to become an official Democratic candidate without initiating "a cumbersome and costly" petition drive.
Democratic Party rules require candidates obtain 25 percent of the state's county endorsements—weighted by population—in order to run in the September primary. Gillibrand has already locked down 56 of the 62 county heads, however Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx remain up for grabs. With those counties alone, Ford would be closed to 25 percent, according to the Times. Without them, Ford—who is taking a leave of absence from his Wall Street job to determine whether or not he should run—would need to spend his time and money acquiring 15,000 signatures from voters across the state to get on the ballot.
So Ford has been trying to win over county like Brooklyn Party Boss and Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D-Bushwick)—who already seems to be a Ford supporter. "They are trying to shut him out ... [Gillibrand] is going around day and night trying to close down party leaders sitting on the fence." A Ford spokeswoman said Gillibrand's attempts to land endorsements show she has "already broken her promise not to use underhanded tactics to keep a potential opponent off the ballot, since that's the way her insider friends in Washington and Albany always do it, but it is quite shameful."
Gillibrand adviser Jefrey Pollock had this to say: "While it may be hard for the Wall Street executive to understand, local activists and community organizers in New York are concerned about the economy and jobs, not Harold Ford's personal political ambitions."