Since he said he was considering challenging Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, former Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford Jr. has received the coldest welcome of any politician in New York since Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at Columbia. Influential Democrats including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Sen. Chuck Schumer, and Gov. David Paterson have discouraged the 39-year-old from running, while pro-choice and gay rights groups have been on the attack against the former Congressman's record. So Ford took to the pages of the Post to tell potential voters how he really feels:

It's true: I am strongly considering running for the United States Senate. I do so because our best as a nation has always come when we test our ideas and ourselves, and when we trust competition to refine the steel of our convictions and the truth of our arguments. Some have already questioned whether I should be running. Others are falsifying my record in public life. New Yorkers deserve a free election. New Yorkers expect a politics where politicians do what's right based on independent judgment, free of political bosses trying to dictate.

His letter to the tabloid notes that he is pro-choice — and always has been (despite calling himself "pro-life" on video). He says he plans to continue "promoting gun safety and handgun control," and he writes that he "enjoyed uninterrupted support from organized labor throughout my time in Congress." Ford says he has always supported civil unions, and like Sen. Schumer, "after listening to and participating in the national conversation about full equality and fairness," now supports gay marriage. "In my three years here, I've learned that New York does not go along to get along. New York does not follow. New York is where the nation learned to lead, build and grow," he concludes. "I hope we all will welcome a debate about who's best to work for New York."