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.

Jump to comments
Presented by

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.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus


Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.


Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.


Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.


Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.


The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air



More in Politics

Just In