Some Democrats want consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren to challenge Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown for his Senate seat in 2012:
In seeking to enlist Ms. Warren for a different campaign, Democrats are taking aim at two birds. They can lay the groundwork for a potential compromise over a different candidate to lead the new agency and, they hope, they can increase their chances of reclaiming Mr. Brown’s seat by sending against him a woman who has won considerable acclaim and popularity among liberals for taking on the financial industry. [...]
If she chose to run — party officials say she is intrigued but far from decided — she would emerge as the most high-profile contender among those currently in the mix. Others include Setti Warren, the mayor of Newton, Mass.; Alan Khazei, an entrepreneur who failed in a 2009 primary bid; and Bob Massie, an activist and minister.
I'm not sure if Warren would make a good senator or not, but on the whole, I think she's better placed in the administration -- preferably as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau -- and not in the Senate, where she'd be one voice among many, and a junior one at that. By contrast, with a high-level administration position, Warren would have much more influence over policy and (potentially) a greater public voice.
Besides, Brown isn't as strong as he looks. I spoke briefly with Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling, who made a few excellent points: Despite his solid (as of December) approval numbers among Republicans, independents, and Democrats, Scott Brown's standing in Massachusetts is tenuous. Not only must he contend with the public's general discontent with the GOP, but as a Republican in a deeply blue state, Brown is completely reliant on support from Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents. It's one thing for Brown to mobilize these candidates in an off-year election with low turnout against a bad candidate; it's something else entirely for Brown to mobilize them in a presidential election year, with a Democratic incumbent at the top of the ticket. Given the decline in split-ticket voting, and the partisan dynamics of Massachusetts, I'd be shocked if Brown could rebuild his January 2010 coalition.
With that in mind, Democrats don't need a high-profile nominee to win; they need a good one, which shouldn't be hard to find. In Massachusetts, a Democratic nominee for Senate will immediately find herself with significant grassroots and institutional support. To borrow from a conversation I had with the Boston Phoenix's David S. Bernstein, "In this state, whoever wins the Democratic nod has instant credibility and funding." Exceptionally weak candidates notwithstanding, a second or even third-tier Democratic nominee could become a strong challenger to Brown, given time, money, and preparation.
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