By Nicole Bode
DNAinfo Associate Editor
MANHATTAN – Likely New York Senate hopeful Harold Ford Jr. took one step closer to declaring his candidacy Tuesday, by writing an issues-packed Op-Ed in the New York Post.
“It’s true: I am strongly considering a run for the United States Senate,” Ford, 39, wrote.
“Some have already questioned whether I should be running. Others are falsifying my record in public life. New Yorkers deserve a free election,” he added.
Ford, who lives in lower Manhattan with his wife, came here three years ago to work at Merrill Lynch after losing a bruising 2006 Senate race in his home state of Tennessee.
The former Democratic congressman was on track for a Senate win before a controversial Republican National Convention ad boosted his competitor, Bob Corker, to victory.
The ad, which drew condemnation from both Ford and Corker, showed a scantily-clad woman who claimed she met Ford at the Playboy mansion and asked him to “call me.”
Critics said the ad played up racial fears because Ford is black and the woman in the ad was white.
Now Ford appears to be positioning himself to unseat Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, the Senator who was appointed to replace Sen. Hillary Clinton.
President Barack Obama has said he backs Gillibrand.
Ford’s father, Harold Ford Sr., was the first African-American to be elected to Congress in Tennessee. Ford Sr. won in 1974 and held office for more than 20 years before he stepped down and successfully supported his son to take over his seat.
Ford used his Op-Ed to challenge perceptions on his conservative stance on issues including abortion, gay marriage and gun control.
“I am pro-choice – have always been since I entered politics 15 years ago,” he wrote. “Any assertions to the contrary are false.”
Ford also said he supports gun control, in what could be a dig at Gillibrand’s staunch support of gun ownership until an avalanche of criticism prompted her to reconsider.
And in a direct reversal from his stance during his previous Senate run, Ford came out in favor of gay marriage.
“Like New York’s senior senator, after listening to and participating in the national conversation about full equality and fairness, I support same-sex marriage," he wrote.