A couple of reactions to the news.
1. Comically, while Ford has described himself as an "independent Democrat", attacked "bullying party bosses" for trying to keep him out and hired former campaign operatives for Joe Lieberman, he cites "for the good of the party" as his reason not to run in his NYTimes op-ed.
I've examined this race in every possible way, and I keep returning to the same fundamental conclusion: If I run, the likely result would be a brutal and highly negative Democratic primary - a primary where the winner emerges weakened and the Republican strengthened.
2. I have thought from the beginning that whatever Ford choose to do, it's a win for him personally. Key graph:
The possibility of a run by the telegenic Mr. Ford, who has been working as a vice chairman of Merrill Lynch and a political commentator on NBC and MSNBC since moving to New York in 2006, had riveted New York's political world, and touched off a furious behind-the-scenes effort to keep him out of the race over the last six weeks.
Ford will go back to his private helicopter tours of NYC, his breakfasts at the Regency Hotel with the Giants and Jets owners, his pedicures and multi-million dollar bonuses- all times ten. One thing the moneyed political set loves is a media star and for his personal life, perhaps Ford as "the-guy-who-threatened-to-run-but-chose-not-to-for-the-sake-of-the-party" is the path he's wanted all along.
3. There are probably a few folks out there who are disappointed that he's not running under the argument that primaries are always good. As I have argued here and here, this one would not have been a good investment for progressives- and there was always the chance that Ford could have ended up as the Democratic nominee from the State of New York. Stranger things have happened in the history of American elections. In this case, it's good that there won't be a chance at that.
4. A pat on the back to folks who magnified how horrible Ford is and would be for New Yorkers, along with blowing up all of his amazing missteps (even if this exploratory phase only lasted about 1.5 months, I feel I could write a best-of post on that front). I recall in one of my posts, a commenter said he'd never seen the netroots so united on anything (and that goes for offline TN and NYS LGBT community pushback, too). I think that united front as a threat really helped.
Update: Adama's take at The Albany Project re a win for pro-reform politics against a system of moneyed interests is dead-on.