Memphis’s best-known political family figured in at least three scenarios:
• In a last-minute scenario that apparently had the cooperation of Shelby County Commissioner Justin Ford, a petition was presented to the downtown Election Commission right at deadline that would have had the commissioner running for Congress in the 9th District as an independent.
The bearer of the petition was one Roderick Ford, not known to be a member of the extended Ford family. The petition, bearing what seemed to be a legitimate signature by the commissioner (who had earlier filed for reelection to the Commission in District 9, against challengers Keith Williams and Patrice Robinson), was rejected by Commission officials, however.
The reason: While it bore the necessary 50 signatures and had Justin Ford’s own signature on the title page, it lacked the commissioner’s signature on a final page, which requires the filing person to sign disclaimers to the effect of having no relations employed at the Election Commission. That was enough to disqualify the petition.
Contacted afterward, Commissioner Ford acknowledged that he had been visited Thursday morning by a group that notified him of their intention to draft him for Congress. Flattered that his services had been sought in that manner, Ford said, he signed the petition.
Commissioner Ford seemed surprised, however, to learn that the petition had been withdrawn, as it was by Roderick Ford, who insisted on a receipt to that effect when it became obvious that the deadline had passed for filing and that the commissioner’s incomplete filing was not being accepted.
Roderick Ford later said an additional problem was that the petition form, which specified an "Independent" candidacy," had been the wrong one. "Commissioner Ford is a Democrat," he said. He did not explain why it, rather than one for the Democratic primary, had been presented to Commissioner Ford.
The aborted maneuver was reminiscent of one in 2006 when Jake Ford, son of former congressman Harold Ford Sr. and brother of then Rep. Harold Ford Jr. , ran as an independent against then state Senator Steve Cohen, who had won the Democratic nomination for the 9th District seat. Harold Ford Jr. had vacated the seat that year to run for the U.S. Senate..
Cohen won that general election and has won reelection three times since. The congressman now faces a Democratic primary challenge from attorney Ricky Wilkins, and, had Commissioner Ford’s petition been accepted, would have faced the prospect of an independent challenge in the November general election.
• Meanwhile, City Councilman Lee Harris, who had been dancing around the prospect of a race against District 29 state Senator Ophelia Ford, finally made his move and filed for that position on Thursday. In a letter dispatched to the media, Harris acknowledged that a race against “an entrenched incumbent” would be difficult and included the names of several endorsers, including Council colleagues Myron Lowery and Harold Collins, and School Board member and businessmen Billy Orgel.
• Finally, Kemba Ford, daughter of former state Senator John Ford and a recent candidate for the legislature in her own right, has appeared at several gatherings in the company of Gordon Ball, the East Tennessee Democrat who has filed for the right to oppose the reeection of Republican U.S. Senate incumbent Lamar Alexander.
More details to follow.