Is Harold Ford’s Potential Candidacy Revenge for a Broken Heart?

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Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Where did Harold Ford Jr. come from? Tennessee, we know. But where did his potential Senate run come from, seemingly out of the blue? Seeing as how, among rank-and-file New York Democrats, there was literally no clamoring for an unfamiliar moderate Southerner to challenge Kirsten Gillibrand, who has been encouraging Ford's tentative campaign? In the Times article nine days ago that set off the current Ford frenzy, reporter Michael Barbaro wrote that "a dozen high-profile Democrats have expressed interest in backing a candidacy by Mr. Ford, including the financier Steven Rattner, who, along with his wife, Maureen White, has been among the country’s most prolific Democratic fund-raisers." Prolific indeed — White was the DNC's national finance chair from 2001 to 2006, and more recently served as the finance co-chair of Hillary Clinton's presidential run. But what's her and her husband's motivation for unseating Gillibrand, when the Democratic establishment they've toiled so hard for is clearly against it? Could it be ... unrequited love?

In his write-up of Ford's fledgling campaign today, the Washington Post's Jason Horowitz includes this juicy tidbit about Gillibrand's troubles with the Rattner-White powerhouse:


Gillibrand has expressed irritation at her inability to crack into the uppermost echelons of the fundraising circuit, namely into the sprawling Fifth Avenue apartment of the first couple in Democratic Party fundraising, Steven Rattner and Maureen White....

According to one Gillibrand supporter, the senator has ascribed the reason for her discord with the couple to a broken-off relationship with White's younger brother more than a decade ago.

"If I got mad at every girlfriend one of my five brothers ever dated, I'd be mad at a lot of people," White said. "The only relevant part of that story is I've known her longer than most people.

"I'm not enthusiastic about Kirsten for a very simple reason," White continued, "New York State needs someone great. It's not clear to me that she has the talent to follow in the footsteps of Robert Kennedy, Daniel Patrick Moynihan or Hillary Clinton."

Honestly, that wasn't an entirely persuasive denial. "If I got mad at every girlfriend one of my five brothers ever dated, I'd be mad at a lot of people." Well, fine, but how about just the ones that broke your brother's heart? Not that we have any insight into what actually transpired between Gillibrand and Brother White. But if Gillibrand still suspects it's a sore spot over ten years later, it must have been pretty ugly.

Former Tennessee congressman Harold Ford Jr.'s northern exposure [WP]