President Obama’s decision to pass over Law School Professor Elizabeth Warren as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has reignited speculation that she will enter the 2012 Massachusetts Senate race and challenge incumbent Republican Scott P. Brown for the seat he assumed in 2010.
In an interview Monday with MSNBC, Warren dodged questions about launching a bid for the Senate, saying that her past year in Washington where she worked 14-hour days to get the CFPB off the ground has left her ready to return home and spend time with her family.
“It’s been wonderful work,” she said, “but it has been all-absorbing work…I’m going to take a step away from this.”
But when asked whether she had ruled out running, Warren seemed to imply that she had not closed the door on the possibility.
“Massachusetts does beckon in the sense that it’s my home,” Warren said. “When I get home, I’ll do more thinking then…not from Washington”
While Warren has yet to announce her intentions, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, an influential Democratic activist group, raised over $15,000 for her nascent campaign during about four hours of aggressive fundraising Monday. In addition, the PCCC started a draft petition to get Warren to run.
Besides Brown, there are five confirmed Democratic contenders for the 2012 race, including City Year co-founder Alan A. Khazei ’83 and Newton mayor Setti D. Warren. There are nearly a dozen other rumored candidates, including Martha M. Coakley, who lost to Brown in the 2010 election. Khazei also ran for the seat in 2010 but lost the Democratic primary to Coakley.
While state Democrats are spoiling for a fight in 2012 when Brown is up for re-election, there is a marked lack of excitement about the current contenders. The lack of a popular, well known figure to challenge the man currently occupying the former seat of Edward M. Kennedy '54-'56 has resulted in a less than subtle effort to draft Warren to run.
“The reason we see so many Democrats stepping up is because [Brown] is not representing the people of the Commonwealth,” said Kevin C. Franck, spokesperson for the Massachusetts Democratic Party. “You can’t say you represent the state when you vote 90 percent of time with D.C. Republicans. Regardless of who the nominee is, Scott Brown’s main opponent is his voting record in D.C.”
Many think that even as a moderate conservative, Brown is vulnerable in a state like Massachusetts. But in order for Democrats to unseat an incumbent in an election cycle that is unlikely to be favorable for the party, it is likely that they will have to find—or create—a charismatic contender with name recognition.
And many see Warren as exactly that person.
But if she does decide to run, Warren will face a steep financial hurdle as Brown currently has about $10 million cash on hand for his campaign. Warren is yet to form a campaign committee.
State Democrats are quick to interject, however, that Warren is a candidate that the party could rally around.
“I can say that many Democrats are proud of the work Elizabeth Warren’s done to protect American consumers, and many of those would be thrilled if she decided to take on Scott Brown,” Franck said.
Warren was favored by the left to lead the CFPB, which was drawn up as a response to the financial crisis of 2008. But in recent months, conservatives have mounted a fervent campaign to oppose her candidacy, an effort that made it clear she would not gain confirmation in the Senate.
That realization led the Obama administration to seek another candidate, and the White House announced Monday that former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray had been tapped as director of the bureau.
—Staff writer Leanna B. Ehrlich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.