To the NYT’s Adam Nossiter, who I believe is their New Orleans-based correspondent covering the South, for not just blindly accepting the conventional wisdom about how the Democrats can’t play in Dixie.
More specifically, he seems to acknowledge that Harold Ford Jr’s defeat was a bit more complicated than redneck whites voting against a black candidate because of an ad that raised the age-old bugaboo of black man/white woman.
Yet even given that reality, Mr. Ford came remarkably close, winning 48 percent of the vote. Why he did not do better was suggested by Mr. Tidwell’s next comment, which also hinted at why Mr. Ford’s racial background was not the only factor in his loss.
“These people are struggling with their vote,” Mr. Tidwell said. “They don’t like the Republicans, but they don’t like a Ford black boy either.” Here the racially charged language was accompanied by the Ford name, and for many in Tennessee, that carried a specific meaning.
Voters knew that several members of the politically active Ford family had been caught up in legal and ethical problems, including Mr. Ford’s father and predecessor in Congress, Harold Ford Sr., who was acquitted on federal corruption charges.
“The Ford name has a lot of baggage in West Tennessee,” said Will T. Cheek, a member of the Democratic National Committee in Nashville.