Harold Ford Jr.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 9th district
In office
January 3, 1997 – January 3, 2007
Preceded byHarold Ford Sr.
Succeeded bySteve Cohen
Personal details
Harold Eugene Ford Jr.

(1970-05-11) May 11, 1970 (age 53)
Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Emily Threlkeld
(m. 2008)
EducationUniversity of Pennsylvania (BA)
University of Michigan (JD)
WebsiteOfficial website

Harold Eugene Ford Jr. (born May 11, 1970)[1] is an American financial managing director, pundit, author, and former U.S. Congressman who served from 1997–2007 in the United States House of Representatives as a member of the Democratic Party from Tennessee's 9th congressional district, centered in Memphis. He is a member of the Ford political family from Memphis, and is the son of former Congressman Harold Ford Sr., who held the same seat for 22 years. In 2006, Ford made an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the retiring Bill Frist. He was also the last chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC).[2]

Between 2011 and 2017, Ford worked for Morgan Stanley as a managing director.[3] He also regularly appeared on television on politically related programs on NBC's Meet the Press, MSNBC, CNN, CNBC.[4]

On December 1, 2020, Ford was named Vice Chairman of Corporate & Institutional Banking at PNC Financial Services. He and his wife live in New York City and have a daughter, Georgia Walker,[citation needed] and a son, Harold Eugene III.[5]

Ford also wrote a book, More Davids Than Goliaths: A Political Education, published in 2010.[6]

In April 2021, Ford joined Fox News as a political contributor.[7] He frequently appears on Special Report as a panel member and was named a co-host of The Five in January 2022.[8]

Family and education

Ford was born in Memphis, Tennessee, the eldest son of former Representative Harold Ford Sr. and Dorothy Bowles Ford.[9] He has two brothers, Jake and Isaac, as well as two half-siblings, Andrew and Ava, from his father's second marriage.

The Ford family has long been prominent in Memphis's black community. Ford's grandfather, N. J. Ford, established a funeral home, which gave the family a broad network in the community. E.H. Crump, a prominent white Democrat, dominated city and state politics in the early 20th century and befriended N.J. Ford.[10] Ford's uncle is John N. Ford, who is Harold Sr.'s brother and was a member of the Tennessee State Senate until he was convicted on federal bribery charges in 2007 as part of the Operation Tennessee Waltz scandal.

Ford lived the first years of his life within the living quarters of his family-owned business N.J. Ford And Sons Funeral Home, which at the time was located in the Riverside neighborhood. He was baptized at his family church, Mt. Moriah-East Baptist Church. He attended Double Tree Elementary School, a public Montessori school in the Westwood neighborhood, but graduated from the private St. Albans School, a prestigious university-preparatory school in Washington, D.C., which he attended after his father became a Congressman. He went on to earn a B.A. in American history from the University of Pennsylvania in 1992.[11]

Early career and legal education

After graduation, Ford went into government, serving as a staff aide to the Senate Budget Committee. In 1993, he became special assistant at the United States Department of Commerce.[12]

Ford returned to university for a J.D. degree from the University of Michigan Law School in 1996. During his campaign for the House of Representatives, he sat for and failed the Tennessee bar exam; he said that he intended to try again;[13] as of 2014, he had not.[14]

House of Representatives career

When Harold Sr. decided not to seek a 12th term in Congress in 1996, Harold Jr. entered the race and became the favorite in the Democratic primary, which was widely regarded as the real contest in the heavily Democratic, black-majority 9th district. Ford arranged his schedule for his last semester of law school so he would not have Monday or Friday classes[15] and would be able to fly home to Memphis for an extended weekend each week to continue his campaign. As was expected, he easily won the Democratic primary, followed by his election in November. Taking office at the age of 26, he was one of the youngest members of Congress in US history and the youngest in the 105th and 106th Congresses. He was reelected four times without substantive Republican opposition, by an average of 80 percent of the vote. In 2000, Ford was the keynote speaker for the 2000 Democratic National Convention supporting then Vice President Al Gore for the Democratic nomination for President.[16]

On 4 November 1999, Ford voted in favor of the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act,.[17] This act repealed much of the Glass–Steagall Act of 1933, which had been enacted to prevent any one organization from acting as any combination of an investment bank, a commercial bank, and an insurance company. The resulting repeal allowed many banks and insurance companies to gamble with money raised from savings and checking bank accounts or insurance policies. Several economists, notably Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, point to the repeal of Glass–Steagall as helping to create the conditions of the 2007 financial crisis.[18][19]

On October 10, 2002, he was among the 81 House Democrats who voted in favor of authorizing the invasion of Iraq.

After the Democrats lost seven Congressional seats in the 2002 elections, Ford announced his candidacy for House Democratic Leader, challenging then-House Minority Whip Nancy Pelosi, arguing that current leadership was ineffective.[20] Ford was defeated but exceeded initial expectations in the amount of support he received.[21] Although his name was mentioned as a possible Democratic vice presidential candidate in 2004,[22] he was ineligible for the office due to his age (four months shy of 35 on Inauguration Day 2005).

A June 7, 2005, article in The Washington Times reported that from 1998 to 2003, Ford took 61 privately funded trips but did not file travel disclosure forms with the House clerk for the trips, as required by the chamber's ethics rules, until August 2003. Ford's office called the late filings a "mere oversight", since Ford had filed the required financial disclosure statements for the trips at the time they occurred.[23]

In November 2005, when Ohio Republican Congresswoman Jean Schmidt implied that Pennsylvania Democrat John Murtha was a "coward" in response to Murtha's proposal for a withdrawal of American forces from Iraq, Ford charged across the House floor to the Republican side during the resulting uproar in the chamber, shouting "Say it to Murtha!" (or "Say Murtha's name!" depending on the source) while waving his finger at Schmidt. He had to be restrained by fellow Democrat Dave Obey of Wisconsin. Like many Democrats, Ford believed Schmidt's remarks (which she later withdrew) were an unwarranted "cheap shot" against Murtha, a veteran of the Marine Corps.[24]

Harold Ford Jr. on the campaign trail

He supported the Republican effort to intercede in the Terri Schiavo case.[25] He opposed President George W. Bush's energy proposals (including oil drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge), demonstrated support for adoption rights of same-sex couples, is in favor of federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, supported universal healthcare coverage, opposed the death penalty and indicated a willingness to reform drug policy.[26][27]

In addition, Ford sat on the House Budget Committee and the House Committee on Financial Services. He also served on the Transformation Advisory Group, a group of political, military and academic leaders who worked with the Department of Defense to assess the needs of the armed forces. Ford was a member of the New Democrat Coalition, the Congressional Black Caucus and the Blue Dog Coalition.[11]

In 2002, Ford was mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate for the Senate seat being vacated by Fred Thompson, but he declined to run. Instead, he supported fellow Congressman Bob Clement who would lose to former Republican Governor Lamar Alexander in the general election.[28]

In 2006, Ford did not run for re-election to the House of Representatives, due to his campaign for the United States Senate in Tennessee. Although he won the Democratic primary, he lost the general election by a margin of 2.7%. His younger brother, Jake Ford, ran for the 9th district seat as an Independent, but lost to Democrat Steve Cohen.

2006 United States Senate campaign

Main article: 2006 United States Senate election in Tennessee

On April 6, 2005, during an interview on C-SPAN's call-in show Washington Journal, Ford confirmed that he would be running for the United States Senate.[29] He filed the papers necessary to officially begin his Senate campaign on May 25, 2005.

Democratic State Senator Rosalind Kurita briefly challenged Ford for the nomination but dropped out of the primary because of inadequate fundraising, effectively handing Ford the nomination.[30] On August 3, 2006, Ford overwhelmingly won the Democratic primary. After the primary, Ford's supporters held a large victory celebration at Nashville's LP Field. Among the speakers was former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

Ford faced Republican Bob Corker in the November 2006 election. Not long after Corker's primary victory was assured, Ford challenged Corker to seven televised debates across the state. In response, Corker said he would debate Ford, though he did not agree to seven debates.[citation needed]

In October 2006, the Republican Party ran radio and television ads characterized by some as racist. A radio spot, referred to by critics as the "jungle drums" ad, had drums playing when Ford's name was mentioned and patriotic music when Corker's name was spoken. This ad was criticized as attacking Ford's race by evoking images of primitive, chanting African tribes.[31] A television ad that received more attention featured satirical "man‑on‑the‑street" interviews purporting to support Ford, including one in which a blond white woman (implied to be nude) talks about meeting Ford at "the Playboy party"; she returns at the end of the ad to wink and whisper in a seductive tone, "Harold, call me." The ad was denounced by many people, including Republican former Senator William Cohen, who called it "a very serious appeal to a racist sentiment", and Corker asked the Republican leadership to pull the ad. The ad was retired one day after Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman said he had no authority to discontinue the ad and disagreed with the negative characterizations of it.[32][33][34]

Corker and Ford participated in a televised debate in Memphis on October 7, in Corker's hometown of Chattanooga on October 10, and in Nashville on October 28. In January 2006, NBC's Meet the Press extended an open invitation for the candidates to debate on the nationally televised show.

On November 8, Ford conceded the election to Corker, who defeated Ford by less than three percentage points.[35]

Post-congressional activities

In December 2006, the Los Angeles Times reported that Ford told students at an L.A.-area school that he might run again in 2008 for the Senate seat held by Republican Lamar Alexander, but in January 2007 Ford said that he had no plans to challenge the incumbent.[36][37] Instead, Ford has said that he "hopes to spend a lot of time at home, perhaps do some teaching and work with Governor Bredesen on some issues in Tennessee."[38]

On January 25, 2007, Ford was named chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council.[39]

In March 2007, Ford joined the financial services firm Merrill Lynch as a vice chairman and senior policy adviser.[40][41] In the same month he was hired by Fox News Channel as a political contributor.[42] In March 2008, he moved from Fox to MSNBC as a news analyst, appearing as a panelist on David Gregory's Race for the White House, Hardball, and Morning Joe.[43]

Ford was appointed visiting professor of public policy at Vanderbilt University in 2007 and taught a class on American political leadership.[44] In October 2007, Ford was appointed as the inaugural Barbara Jordan Visiting Professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.[45] As of the spring 2010 semester, he is a visiting professor at New York University's Wagner School of Public Service where he teaches Policy Formation: U.S. Domestic Policy.[46] In the fall of 2015 he was a visiting faculty member at the University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy.[47]

Ford worked at the Wall Street firm Morgan Stanley as a managing director.[48] In late 2017, erroneous media reports said that he was fired for sexual misconduct[49][50] and Morgan Stanley issued a statement the following month saying that no sexual misconduct took place.[51] In January 2018, The New York Times reported that Ford reached a legal settlement with Morgan Stanley.[52][51]

Ford is on the Board of Selectors of Jefferson Awards for Public Service.[53] He is also a member of the ReFormers Caucus of Issue One.[54]

2010 United States Senate election

See also: 2010 United States Senate special election in New York

Ford considered a primary challenge to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in New York in 2010.[2] Sources close to Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York have said that he would consider supporting someone "of Mr. Ford's stature".[2] However, it was also reported that Mayor Bloomberg "reassured Mr. Reid that he was not personally involved in the effort to promote a Ford candidacy."[55] Chuck Schumer sought to dissuade Ford from running.[55]

On February 5, 2010, Gillibrand held a press conference at which she raised questions as to whether Ford, as an executive of Merrill Lynch, received taxpayer-backed bonuses from Bank of America, stemming from the federal bailout. She was joined by New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who endorsed her candidacy.[56]

On February 12, it was reported that Ford's NBC contract was suspended due to his potential campaign, and that he had taken an unpaid leave of absence from Merrill Lynch for the same reason.[57] On March 1, Ford stated in an op-ed article published by The New York Times that he would not run against Gillibrand.[58][59]

Personal life

Ford married Emily Threlkeld, who works in public relations for Carolina Herrera in New York, on April 26, 2008.[60] They have a daughter, Georgia Walker Ford.[citation needed] Their second child, a son, Harold Eugene Ford III, was born in May 2015.[5]

Electoral history

Tennessee's 9th congressional district: Results 1996–2004[61]
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
1996 Harold E. Ford Jr. 116,345 61% Rod DeBerry 70,951 37% Silky Sullivan Independent 957 1% *
1998 Harold E. Ford Jr. 75,428 79% Claude Burdikoff 18,078 19% Gwendolyn L. Moore Independent 932 1% *
2000 Harold E. Ford Jr. 143,298 100% (no candidate) *
2002 Harold E. Ford Jr. 120,904 84% (no candidate) Tony Rush Independent 23,208 16% *
2004 Harold E. Ford Jr. 190,648 82% Ruben M. Fort 41,578 18% *

*Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 1996, Mary D. Taylor received 498 votes; Anthony Burton received 424 votes; Greg Voehringer received 327 votes; Tom Jeanette received 222 votes; Del Gill received 199 votes; Bill Taylor received 179 votes; Johnny E. Kelly received 156 votes; Don Fox received 146 votes; and write-ins received 10 votes. In 1998, Johnny Kelly received 775 votes; Greg Voehringer received 567 votes; and write-ins received 2 votes. In 2000, write-ins received 36 votes. In 2002, write-ins received 148 votes. In 2004, Jim Maynard received 166 votes.

2006 Democratic Primary for U.S. Senate (TN)

U. S. Senate (Class I) elections in Tennessee: Results 2006[62]
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
2006 Harold Ford Jr. 879,976 48% Bob Corker 929,911 51% Ed Choate Independent 10,831 1% *

*Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 2006, David "None of the Above" Gatchell received 3,746 votes, Emory "Bo" Heyward received 3,580 votes, H. Gary Keplinger received 3,033 votes and Chris Lugo (Green) received 2,589 votes.

See also


  1. ^ "FORD, Harold, Jr. - Biographical Information". bioguide.congress.gov.
  2. ^ a b c Barbaro, Michael, "Harold Ford Jr. Weighs a Challenge to Gillibrand", The New York Times, January 5, 2010
  3. ^ "Former U.S. Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. Joins Morgan Stanley". Morgan Stanley.
  4. ^ Meet the Press. "Former Rep. Harold Ford (D-TN) on Meet the Press On the Keystone XL Pipeline". Archived from the original on 2021-11-04. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Harold Ford Jr. for Mayor?". June 1, 2015. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  6. ^ "More Davids Than Goliaths: A Political Education". Amazon. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  7. ^ Allison, Natalie (April 13, 2021). "Harold Ford Jr., former Tennessee congressman, joins Fox News as contributor". The Tennessean. Retrieved April 14, 2021.
  8. ^ "Jeanine Pirro Named Co-host of the Five with Liberal Seat to Rotate Between Harold Ford Jr, Geraldo Rivera, and Jessica Tarlov" (Press release). 12 January 2022.
  9. ^ Reitwiesner, William Addams. "Ancestry of Harold Ford". Retrieved 2007-05-18.
  10. ^ de la Cruz, Bonna (2005-08-01). "Political future of Fords hinges on constituents". The Tennessean. Retrieved 2007-05-18.[dead link]
  11. ^ a b "Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. :: 9th District of Tennessee :: Biography". Archived from the original on 2006-09-02. Retrieved 2006-09-08.
  12. ^ "Ford, Harold Jr". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 2007-05-18.
  13. ^ Abramson, Roger (2004-06-03). "Harold Ford Jr., Prince of Memphis". Nashville Scene. Archived from the original on 2007-05-20. Retrieved 2007-05-18.
  14. ^ Badash, David (April 29, 2014). "Harold Ford Failed The Bar Exam – That Explains So Much…". The New Civil Rights Movement. Retrieved 2021-09-13.
  15. ^ "Harold Ford's Rising Star Heads Toward the Senate". Democratic Party. August 2006. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-05-18.
  16. ^ Ferullo, Mike (2000-08-16). "Ford appeals to younger voters in keynote address". CNN. Archived from the original on 2007-01-08. Retrieved 2007-05-18.
  17. ^ "S. 900 (106th): Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act -- House Vote #570 -- Nov 4, 1999". GovTrack.us.
  18. ^ "Who's Whining Now? Economists Hit Gramm". abcnews.go.com.
  19. ^ Paletta, Damian; Scannell, Kara (March 10, 2009). "Ten Questions for Those Fixing the Financial Mess". The Wall Street Journal.
  20. ^ http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=20021125&s=lizza112502][dead link]
  21. ^ "Democrats pick Pelosi as House leader". CNN. November 14, 2002. Retrieved May 4, 2010.
  22. ^ "John J. Miller on Election 2004 & Vice President on National Review Online". nationalreview.com.
  23. ^ "Lawmakers dash to correct records of trips". The Washington Times.
  24. ^ Fineman, Howard, "Bush at the Tipping Point", Newsweek, November 28, 2005
  25. ^ "Key Votes". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 4, 2010.
  26. ^ "Harold Ford on the Issues". Ontheissues.org.
  27. ^ ">> HaroldFordJr.com | Harold on the Issues<<". Archived from the original on 2006-09-06. Retrieved 2006-09-08.
  28. ^ "CNN - Breaking News, Latest News and Videos". CNN.
  29. ^ "C-SPAN.org: Search Results". C-span.org.
  30. ^ 4/12/2006 - Rosalind Kurita Withdraws From U.S. Senate Race Archived 2006-08-25 at the Wayback Machine, The Chattanoogan
  31. ^ Sargent, Greg, "TN-SEN: Corker Radio Ad Has "Jungle Drums" During Mentions Of Ford" Archived 2011-07-16 at the Wayback Machine, Talking Points Memo, October 25, 2006, Retrieved February 23, 2010
  32. ^ A.C. Kleinheider (21 October 2006). "Too Hot For Corker". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-11-04.
  33. ^ Johnson, Alex, "Tennessee ad ignites internal GOP squabbling", NBC News, October 25, 2006, Retrieved February 23, 2010
  34. ^ O’Donnell, Norah, "GOP retires ‘Playboy’ ad in Tennessee", NBC News, October 25, 2006, Retrieved February 23, 2010
  35. ^ "Elections 2006". CNN. Retrieved May 4, 2010.
  36. ^ Richard Locker, "Another Senate seat might tempt Ford", The Commercial Appeal, December 11, 2006
  37. ^ "Ford says he has no plans of a Senate bid against Alexander". WMCTV.com. Associated Press. 2007-01-23. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-06.
  38. ^ "Corker sworn in as U.S. Senator". Associated Press. January 4, 2007. Retrieved on Jan. 7, 2007
  39. ^ "DLC: Harold e. Ford, Jr". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-01-25.
  40. ^ Keoun, Bradley,Merrill Hires Former U.S. Congressman Ford as Adviser, Bloomberg.com, February 14, 2007.
  41. ^ Merrill Lynch (2007-02-14). Former Congressman Harold E. Ford Jr. Joins Merrill Lynch as Vice Chairman. Merrill Lynch press release, 14 February 2007. Retrieved from http://www.ml.com/index.asp?id=7695_7696_8149_74412_75268_75567 Archived 2010-01-02 at the Wayback Machine.
  42. ^ Flyer Staff. "Ford Junior To Become "Fair and Balanced" Commentator". Memphis Flyer.
  43. ^ "Harold Ford Jr. Jumps From FNC to MSNBC". mediabistro.com. 2008-03-24. Archived from the original on October 12, 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-27.
  44. ^ Vanderbilt News Service Harold Ford Jr. to be visiting professor of public policy at Vanderbilt; Congressional veteran to teach class on political leadership. 1/15/2007
  45. ^ "LBJ School of Public Affairs Announces Appointment of Congressman Harold Ford Jr. Inaugural Barbara Jordan Visiting Professor". Utexas.edu. Archived from the original on 8 November 2007. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  46. ^ Cabrera, Debra (2009-11-05). "PNP Course Highlights: Spring 2010" (PDF). Wagner.nyu.edu. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  47. ^ "Harold Ford | the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan". Archived from the original on 2015-09-15. Retrieved 2015-09-14.
  48. ^ Faber, David (22 February 2011). "Harold Ford Jr. Leaving BofA for Morgan Stanley". CNBC. Retrieved June 15, 2016.
  49. ^ Atkinson, Claire (7 December 2017). "Harold Ford Jr. blasts misconduct claim that led to firing by Morgan Stanley". NBC. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  50. ^ Ali, Yashar. "Exclusive: Former Congressman Harold Ford Jr. Fired For Misconduct By Morgan Stanley". Huffington Post. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  51. ^ a b Kelly, Kate (22 January 2018). "Morgan Stanley Says Harold Ford Jr. Wasn't Fired for Sexual Misconduct". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  52. ^ Kelly, Kate; Sorkin, Andrew (January 11, 2018). "A Wall St. Executive's Downfall Seemed Sudden. It Was Years in the Making". The New York Times. Retrieved January 20, 2018.
  53. ^ "Jefferson Awards Foundation". Archived from the original on 2014-08-22. Retrieved 2013-12-04.
  54. ^ "Issue One – ReFormers Caucus". Retrieved 2019-11-07.
  55. ^ a b Barbaro, Michael and Hernandez, Raymond (January 7, 2010), "Potential Ford Senate Bid Sets Off Scramble", The New York Times, Retrieved March 1, 2010.
  56. ^ Paybarah, Azi (February 5, 2010), "Gillibrand: Disclosing Bonus is 'Essential' for Ford", The New York Observer, Retrieved February 14, 2010
  57. ^ Calderone, Michael (February 12, 2010), "Ford's NBC contract suspended", The Politico, Retrieved February 14, 2010
  58. ^ Ford, Harold Jr. (March 1, 2010), "Why I’m Not Running for the Senate", The New York Times, Retrieved March 1, 2010
  59. ^ Bacon, Perry Jr. (March 2, 2010) "Ford won't challenge Gillibrand for Senate in N.Y.", The Washington Post, Retrieved March 2, 2010
  60. ^ Report, Electronic Urban. "Black Entertainment News - EURWeb.com". EURweb.
  61. ^ "Election Statistics". Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Retrieved 2007-08-08.
  62. ^ "Official election results" (PDF). State.tn.us.
U.S. House of Representatives Preceded byHarold Ford Sr. Member of the U.S. House of Representativesfrom Tennessee's 9th congressional district 1997–2007 Succeeded bySteve Cohen Honorary titles Preceded byPatrick Kennedy Baby of the House 1997–2001 Succeeded byAdam Putnam Party political offices Preceded byEvan Bayh Keynote Speaker of the Democratic National Convention 2000 Succeeded byBarack Obama Preceded byJeff Clark Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Tennessee(Class 1) 2006 Succeeded byMark E. Clayton Preceded byTom Vilsack Chair of the Democratic Leadership Council 2007–2011 Position abolished U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial) Preceded byAnne Northupas Former US Representative Order of precedence of the United Statesas Former US Representative Succeeded byBill Jenkinsas Former US Representative