Davis to run for Tenn. governor, despite Ford Jr.'s interest - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Davis to run for Tenn. governor, despite Ford Jr.'s interest

WASHINGTON (AP) - Rep. Lincoln Davis says he's planning a run to become Tennessee's next governor, despite reports of Harold Ford Jr.'s interest in the race.

"I've made up my mind to run for governor," said Davis, who served as Ford's campaign chairman during his unsuccessful 2006 Senate bid against Republican Bob Corker.

"I don't think (Ford) is going to run because Lincoln Davis is going to run. I would imagine that if I'm in the race, he'll step aside."

But an adviser to Ford and the head of the Tennessee Democratic Party confirmed that Ford is "seriously considering" a gubernatorial run to succeed Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen in 2010. Bredesen cannot run for a third term.

"My understanding is that he's very interested in looking at it," said Gray Sasser, chairman of the state Democratic Party, who confirmed that representatives from Ford's Senate campaign recently met with top Democratic officials to discuss that possibility.

Tom Lee, a senior adviser to Ford during the Senate campaign, also confirmed Ford's interest in the governor's seat but declined to speculate when asked about a possible head-to-head match-up between Ford and Davis.

"Congressman Davis is a great friend, a great Democrat and a great congressman," Lee said. "How the race ultimately shakes out two or three years from now, we'll have to see."

Ford declined to be interviewed. The 37-year-old former U.S. representative from Memphis currently serves as chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council, teaches a course at Vanderbilt University and is a vice president at investment firm Merrill Lynch.

Whether or not it's for the governor's seat, Rhodes College political science professor Marcus Pohlmann said Ford appears to be keeping his political options open.

Since losing to Corker, he said Ford has been rumored to be interested in running for Memphis mayor or in a rematch against Corker in 2012. "I can't imagine he intends to remain too long at the DLC or at Vanderbilt," Pohlmann said.

"He obviously has political ambitions." Davis, however, thinks different. "I'm not sure he's that interested in politics," he said. "I'm not sure he has that drive and desire in him."

Davis said he plans to kick his gubernatorial campaign into high gear once the 2008 election is over. He intends to focus on education.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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