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Michael Francis Ford, a noted Democratic political strategist, entrepreneur and founder of the Center for the Study of the American Dream at Xavier University, died on November 5 at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md., after battling melanoma for five years. He was 65.
Over four decades, Mr. Ford served in nine presidential campaigns, holding senior strategic positions for Edward Kennedy in 1980, Walter Mondale in 1984, Jerry Brown in 1992 and Howard Dean in 2004. In addition, he managed more than 100 gubernatorial, US Senate, US House and mayoral campaigns across the country.
Former Vice President Walter Mondale said in a letter this week: "A man of many gifts, Mike's greatest gift may have been his ability to inspire young people around him, teach them to be the best versions of themselves, and to understand the importance of giving back to their community and country."
I met Mike Ford at the Dean campaign in 2003, which feels like a lifetime ago. He shared much of my distaste for the party establishment, which is why he'd always find himself working for insurgent candidates. Mike (alongside Joe Trippi) taught me more about presidential campaigns than I ever would've learned otherwise. I owe a big chunk of my political expertise to his patient and colorful explanations of campaign machinations. And even though he was a political consultant, he know how shitty his colleagues were. Here he is in Crashing the Gate:
One of the few [Democratic political consultants] who will talk is veteran political strategist Mike Ford, who mentored Howard Dean's unconventional campaign manager Joe Trippi and has worked a number of presidential campaign with his wife Sally Ford. And not only did he talk, he minced no words. "It's a nasty, bullshit business, consulting" Mike Ford told us [...]
We need more people like Mike in Democratic politics, not less.