Potential U.S. Senate candidate Harold Ford came a-courting on Kings County Democratic County leader Vito Lopez in Brooklyn last week.
The sit-down came at Williamsburg’s Cono Restaurant where pictures of visiting political bigwigs line the walls like hunters’ trophies and the mid-day chicken parmesan at $17.95 is hardly a working person’s lunch special.
Ford, originally from Tennessee, poo-pooed the notion of his being a carpetbagger, telling this reporter he’s a full-fledged New Yorker, having moved here three years ago.
“About a week and a half ago, he [Ford] gave me a call wanting to sit down,” Lopez told a bevy of reporters outside the eatery. “I asked if he was a serious candidate and he said he would make a decision in the next two weeks.”
Lopez noted the same type of situation occurred when the party supported Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama, and Caroline Kennedy over current U.S. Sen. Kristin Gillibrand, who Ford is considering challenging in the September primary.
Lopez said he has met Gillibrand a few times in passing at political events, and she has also asked for a dialogue with him.
Lopez said if the meeting goes well and he determines that Ford is really interested in the job, he will follow up with political leaders in Brooklyn including district leaders, assembly members, senators and the borough president for a round-table discussion on who to support.
Ford was accompanied by Bradley Tusk, who served as Mayor Bloomberg’s campaign manager in his recent election.
Lopez said the Democratic leadership will make a final decision on who it is backing at the end of April.
“Brooklyn is a pivotal county for its number of votes, which is about 12 percent of the state’s delegates and you have to have 25 percent to get on the ballot,” said Lopez.
“So people have come to us to get on the ballot,” he added.
The high-powered lunch menu included appetizers of baked clams, fried sweet peppers, one of the specialties of the house, as well as fresh mozzarella and fried calamari.