Paging Senator Warren: The Case for Her Campaign

The Harvard Law professor could be the senate's next "liberal lion"

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Sunday's announced nomination of former Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was a blow to liberals hoping for White House consumer protection adviser Elizabeth Warren to head the new regulatory body. But it doesn't look like the Harvard law professor and tenacious Wall Street critic is going to let that political capital go to waste: According to a number of reports, she's strongly considering running for Senator Scott Brown's seat in Massachusetts--and she's likely the left's best hope. "Political experts [say] Warren has both the appeal and the access to deep donor pockets to seriously challenge Brown," reports the Boston Herald this morning. "And given the role Senate Republicans played in derailing her shot at the federal post, she could have a strong motive to recapture the iconic so-called Kennedy seat for the Democrats." Here's why prognosticators say she'll make a good candidate.

She's the strongest challenger, writes Robert Kuttner at The American Prospect. "In Massachusetts, the Democratic field right now is stunningly weak, and Warren is the one candidate who can galvanize voters and take back the seat formerly held by Ted Kennedy," he writes. "The two most visible contenders in the race are both decent people who would be weak candidates--Seti Warren, mayor of suburban Newton, and Alan Khazei, a good-government reformer associated with City Year, who finished a distant third in the Democratic primary pack last time. Neither would stand a prayer against Scott Brown."

She'd play up the Washington outsider angle, says Boston University political history professor Thomas Whalen. "She's a wild card. In some ways, she would be the fresh new face, interestingly playing the role that Scott Brown played when he ran in the special election. He's the Washington insider now ... she would clearly be somebody who’s never held elective office."

There's no better place for her to run, writes The Wall Street Journal editorial board, in a rather back-handed editorial encouraging her to "go for it." "Why not give open government a try? By running for the Senate, the Harvard law professor could test her views against popular opinion. It's true she'd have to take on Republican Scott Brown, and a March survey showed he would beat her by 17 percentage points. But 59% said they hadn't heard of Mrs. Warren, and a famously liberal state like Massachusetts would surely give her a hearing. Step out of the shadows, professor, and embrace a little democratic legitimacy."

She'll have fundraising clout, adds Robert Kuttner. "Fortunately, a large group of Bay State progressives have hung back and not endorsed any of the early candidates," he writes. "Coakley recently told them she won't run this year. They have been waiting for Warren to declare, and she will now get their strong support. It is also early enough in the race that most of the state's best campaign professionals have not yet committed, and will now back Warren. It's not quite 100 percent definite that she will join the race, but all signs point to it."

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