In several counties, Mr. Ford won even fewer votes than Senator John Kerry, who lost big in the state when he ran for president in 2004.
That struck me as highly improbable since Ford ended up with a respectable 48 percent of the vote compared to Kerry's 43%. To check, I looked at the county level results and Ford's percentages were indeed larger than Kerry's in each of Tennessee's counties. The least increase was 1.74 percent in McNairy county and the most was 9.4 percent in Montgomery county.
Of course, the Times might be talking about total votes rather than vote percentages, but that would be a meaningless statistic since voter turnout in off-year elections is usually much lower than in presidential election years. A look at those numbers shows pretty much what you would expect; Ford, got fewer votes than Kerry in all but one county. Similarly, Ford's opponent, Bob Corker, got fewer votes than George W. Bush in every single one of Tennessee's counties.
The NYT might want to do a better job of fact checking.