Can Elizabeth Warren Beat the Curse of Female Massachusetts Candidates?

Her show of force at the state Democratic convention this weekend was reassuring for supporters rattled by a few rough weeks.


It's been clear for some time that Elizabeth Warren would be the Democratic Senate nominee in Massachusetts. What has been in doubt of late is whether she would end up as one more under-performing woman in Massachusetts politics.

The state has a poor record when it comes to female officeholders. It has never elected a woman governor or senator, and it has elected only four women to the House since 1925. To be fair, Massachusetts has also had some less than stellar female politicians, among them former acting governor Jane Swift and failed 2010 Senate candidate Martha Coakley.

Warren has been a public figure for years, but her inept handling of questions about her heritage underscored her status as a novice when it comes to running for office. She clearly did not expect publicly available information about her Native American roots to come up in her tight-as-a-tick race against GOP Sen. Scott Brown, nor did she anticipate a need to supply documentation for the claim. This in an era when even President Obama's long-form birth certificate issued by the state of Hawaii is not enough to convince some people (we're talking to you, Donald) that he was born in America.

But Warren's performance at the state convention this weekend must have reassured state and national Democrats terrified of losing control of the Senate. She did what a good pol should do -- court the 3,500 delegates and give a fiery convention speech -- and took it a big step further.

Her 95.7 percent of the vote not only denied would-be rival Marisa DeFranco the 15 percent she needed to get on the primary ballot, it was well above the 30-year high of 86 percent won by a Democrat seeking the Senate nomination, according to The New York Times.

The late Ted Kennedy had primary opposition at least twice in his long Senate career after current rules were adopted in 1982. Veteran senator and 2004 presidential nominee John Kerry didn't even manage to clear the field in 2008 after his White House bid.

Warren's show of strength is no guarantee that she will win in November, but at least she has proven able to unify her party.

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Jill Lawrence is a national correspondent at National Journal. She was previously a columnist at Politics Daily, national political correspondent at USA Today and national political writer at the Associated Press.

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