Amidst all those retirements yesterday, the New York Times floated that a Democrat would get into a race – former Tennessee Rep. and chair of the DLC Harold Ford, being tapped by a bunch of Wall Streeters to challenge Kirsten Gillibrand in New York.

Encouraged by a group of influential New York Democrats, Harold Ford Jr., the former congressman from Tennessee, is weighing a bid to unseat Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand in this fall’s Democratic primary, according to three people who have spoken with him.

Mr. Ford, 39, who moved to New York three years ago, has told friends that he will decide whether to run in the next 45 days. The discussions between Mr. Ford and top Democratic donors reflect the dissatisfaction of some prominent party members with Ms. Gillibrand, who has yet to win over key constituencies, especially in New York City.

Here’s who is named as supporting Ford, according to the article:

• Uber-rich financier Steven Rattner;
• Merryl H. Tisch, the wife of Loews Corporation CEO James Tisch;
• Richard Plepler, the co-President of HBO;
• Michael Bloomberg, the independent mayor of New York.

Really sounds like the heart of the liberal grassroots, doesn’t it?

Look, if Wall Street wants to buy a Senate seat for the chair of the DLC, they can certainly try. But it’s pretty obvious that this would seriously energize the Democratic grassroots, perhaps in a way that no other candidate would. This is akin to Joe Lieberman making a primary challenge today. I don’t know if anyone remembers Harold Ford and Markos Moulitsas’ panel discussion at the 2008 Netroots Nation, but Ford couldn’t have come off worse to that room if he tried. He would have an enormous target on his back.

With Rep. Peter King begging off a run in the general election in New York, in the mistaken hope that Republicans will take back the House, the winner of the Democratic primary is virtually assured of victory. And with New York’s primary coming late in the season, on September 14, that’s a whole lot of time for progressive organizing and just beating on Harold Ford. That kind of intensity could generally be a good thing for Democrats in 2010.

You mean progressives get to run against the DLC and Wall Street all at the same time? Sign me up!