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He filed the papers necessary to officially begin his Senate campaign on May 25, 2005.
Democratic State Senator Rosalind Kurita briefly challenged Ford for the nomination but dropped out of the primary because of inadequate fundraising, effectively handing Ford the nomination. Ford faced Republican Bob Corker in the November 2006 election.
In 2006, Ford did not run for re-election to the House of Representatives, due to his campaign for the United States Senate in Tennessee, which he lost.
His younger brother, Jake Ford, ran for the 9th district seat as an Independent, but lost to Democrat Steve Cohen.
He has two brothers, Jake and Isaac, as well as two half-siblings, Andrew and Ava, from his father's second marriage. Ford, established a funeral home, which gave the family a broad network in the community. Ford arranged his schedule for his last semester of law school so he would not have Monday or Friday classes and would be able to fly home to Memphis for an extended weekend each week to continue his campaign.
He was reelected four times without substantive Republican opposition, by an average of 80 percent of the vote.
In 2000, Ford was the keynote speaker for the 2000 Democratic National Convention supporting then Vice President Al Gore for the Democratic nomination for President.
He also served on the Transformation Advisory Group, a group of political, military and academic leaders who worked with the Department of Defense to assess the needs of the armed forces.
Ford was a member of the New Democrat Coalition, the Congressional Black Caucus and the Blue Dog Coalition.