Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Warren, the outspoken consumer advocate and one of the intellectual parents of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, seems all but ready to throw her hat in the 2012 Massachusetts Senate race. Warren filed the paperwork for an exploratory committee to challenge Republican Sen. Scott Brown, and already has set up a website. Warren, who advised the financial protection bureau but was passed over for its top spot by former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, would become a favorite among progressive voters across the country. But she would face an uphill battle in Massachusetts. [Check out cartoons about the Democratic Party.]
Two years ago, Scott Brown was an unknown state senator, but after his surprising 2010 special election victory to replace Ted Kennedy, he is now one of the heavyweights in Massachusetts politics. Although the state is very liberal, Bay Staters seem to have developed a deep fondness for Brown's humble roots, Rocky-like rise to power, and image as a Washington outsider. A June Boston Globe poll found that, with a 55 percent approval rating, Brown was the most popular office holder in the state. A July poll from Brown's campaign showed him leading Warren, 53 to 28 percent.
If Warren wins the Democratic primary, a matchup between the two candidates will highlight two different types of populism — Warren's liberal economic populism, directed against the financial industry, and Brown's more cultural brand of populism. Warren, a law professor at Harvard since 1992, will likely have to battle attacks that she is an elitist out of touch with the state. Already, the National Republican Senatorial Committee released a statement noting her roots in Oklahoma, and calling her "Professor Warren."
- See a slideshow of the Democrats' Vulnerable 2012 Senate Seats.
- Find out about the Women of the Senate.
- See cartoons about the economy.