Harold Ford won't seek New York Senate seat: report

Harold Ford Jr. concedes to his opponent Republican Senate candidate Bob Corker at an election night party in Memphis, November 7, 2006. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Harold Ford, a former representative from Tennessee, will not challenge Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in the New York Democratic primary, The New York Times reported on Monday.

In an opinion piece it said would be published in the Times on Tuesday, the newspaper quoted Ford as writing: “If I run, the likely result would be a brutal and highly negative Democratic primary -- a primary where the winner emerges weakened and the Republican strengthened.”

“I refuse to do anything that would help Republicans win a Senate seat in New York, and give the Senate majority to the Republicans,” Ford wrote in the column.

Democrats face a battle in November’s congressional elections as they seek to retain their majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives.

Gillibrand was appointed to the Senate last year by New York Democratic Governor David Paterson to replace Hillary Clinton who became secretary of state.

Paterson last week abandoned his campaign to seek a full term in November, battered by questions of impropriety and growing pressure to quit the race.

Some Democrats believe Gillibrand, a former congresswoman, has failed to solidify her position in the liberal-leaning state. Analysts had said a tough primary against Ford could help establish her with voters.

Several Republicans are considering running against Gillibrand and former Republican congressman Rick Lazio has launched a bid for governor.

The Times said Ford, 39, had faced intense pressure within the Democratic Party not to run against Gillibrand. The newspaper said Obama administration officials had signaled they did not want to see him run, while New York Democratic Senator Charles Schumer met with him to argue against such a candidacy.

Writing by Peter Cooney; Editing by Chris Wilson