Commerce Secretary was already a second-tier cabinet position. After Bill Richardson and Judd Gregg's withdrawals, it's got even less cachet. So why am I not surprised that, per NBC's Chuck Todd (via Politico Playbook), former Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford Jr is a leading candidate?

Last I'd heard, Ford was considering a run for Tennessee Governor in 2010. That was an exciting prospect (along with Alabama's Artur Davis, Ford would be the second African-American gubernatorial candidate in a Southern state in 2010), but, to me at least, also an unlikely one. Yes, Ford came close to winning statewide in 2006 when he ran for the U.S. Senate. But, as soon as he lost that race, he decamped to New York to work for Merrill Lynch (and to blather for MSNBC). Ford, who owed his Memphis Congressional seat to this father (who held it before him), just didn't seem to have deep enough roots in Tennessee to not look like a guy who only showed his face in the state when he wanted to run for office.

Still, it was clear the guy still badly wants to be in the mix. So badly, it seems, that he's willing to become the third choice for a second-tier job.

--Jason Zengerle