A spokesman tells The Associated Press that Ford took a 30-day leave from his job as vice chairman of Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Davidson Goldin said Tuesday Ford wants to focus on "listening to New Yorkers and discussing his goals as an independent Democrat'' while he decides whether to challenge Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in the Democratic primary.
The former Tennessee congressman has been meeting with elected officials and other political operatives recently. He plans to travel to Long Island this week and upstate next week.
As for Gillibrand, more voters view her unfavorably than favorably for the first time in the Siena poll and Pataki, a Republican who hasn't announced a run, is taking the lead for the first time.
Thirty-two percent of voters view Gillibrand unfavorably, compared with 30 percent who see her favorably. Just 29 percent of those polled by Siena are prepared to elect Gillibrand.
However, she leads in a potential matchup with Democrat Harold Ford, the former Tennessee congressman, but now trails Pataki.
Fifty-one percent of voters favor Pataki, with 38 percent for Gillibrand in a potential matchup.
Friday's Marist poll found Gillibrand nearly even with Pataki, 45 percent to 42 percent.
"Like most New Yorkers, Governor Pataki is deeply dissatisfied by the lack of a strong voice for our interests in Washington," said Pataki spokesman David Catalfamo. "He is gratified by the support and encouragement he continues to receive and is considering how best to be a part of our national discourse."
"Anybody who wants to run for Senate in New York should run for the Senate," Gillibrand said Monday.