Elizabeth Warren Nears Run for Senate

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The Wall Street Journal
By: Katie Glueck
August 19, 2011

Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard Law School professor who took the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from concept to creation, took an important step Thursday toward challenging Republican Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts, a key 2012 race as Democrats try to keep control of the Senate.

After months of speculation, Ms. Warren set up an exploratory committee for a Senate run in Massachusetts, and she launched a campaign website. She is expected to make a definitive announcement on whether she will run after Labor Day.

Ms. Warren was once thought to be a top pick to lead the consumer bureau, but President Barack Obama tapped former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray instead because of Republican vows to block her Senate confirmation.

Of the 33 Senate seats on ballots next year, 23 are currently held by Democrats, putting the party on the defensive in many states. But in Massachusetts, Democrats are committed to playing offense, said Matt Canter, a spokesman for the Senate Democrats' campaign arm.

"This race is one of the top priorities for Democrats nationally," he said. "It's a top pick-up opportunity for Democrats. There will be the resources necessary to hold [Mr. Brown] accountable for his record."

It could be a tough fight. Mr. Brown, who was elected in 2010 to fill the term of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, has about $10 million in his war chest. Although his favorability ratings have dropped since he was elected, he has strong support.

"The people of Massachusetts like Scott Brown," said Eric Fehrnstrom, a senior adviser to Mr. Brown's campaign. "They see a regular guy who's honest, hardworking and calls them like he sees them."

Neither Mr. Brown nor Ms. Warren would comment on campaign matters.

Ms. Warren would face a crowded Democratic primary field that likely will include former Senate candidate Alan Khazei and Setti Warren, the mayor of Newton who was an aide to Sen. John Kerry (D., Mass.).

But Ms. Warren has more name recognition than some of the other contenders, said Maurice Cunningham, an expert in Massachusetts politics at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. "She is someone who'd be able to make the contrary case [to Sen. Brown's conservative economic policies] very effectively."

In the last week, Ms. Warren has met with grassroots activists and local Democratic officials to gauge their concerns and to introduce herself, an individual close to Ms. Warren said. She is expected to hold more meetings in the next several weeks.

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