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CAMPAIGN 2012

Warren looks poised to run for Senate seat

Online posting indicates strong interest in race

Elizabeth Warren hasn’t disclosed her plans, but some say her intentions are clear. Elizabeth Warren hasn’t disclosed her plans, but some say her intentions are clear.
By Theo Emery
Globe Staff / August 12, 2011

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WASHINGTON - Elizabeth Warren, the architect of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, sent her clearest signal yet yesterday that she will challenge Republican Scott Brown for his Senate seat.

In a posting on a website supportive of the Democratic Party, Warren tells the tale of her Aunt Bee and Aunt Bert. Her father’s heart attack and the family’s struggle to pay its bills. Her battle scars from Washington, her empathy for middle-class families in Massachusetts, and lastly, her entreaties for ideas on fixing “a badly broken political system.’’

“If the question is ‘Will she run,’ I think she’s putting her track shoes on,’’ said Tufts University political science professor James M. Glaser. “It’s pretty clear.’’

There has been widespread speculation that Warren might challenge Brown for the seat that he won in a special election early last year after the death of Edward M. Kennedy. Up until yesterday, Warren has not broadcast her intentions, but some activists have urged her to add her name to the field that already includes seven Democrats, including Mayor Setti Warren of Newton and City Year founder Alan Khazei.

Although Elizabeth Warren’s posting does not explicitly say she will run, it dispels any uncertainty about her interest. She has enlisted the assistance of two Democratic operatives with a track record: Governor Deval Patrick’s former campaign manager, Doug Rubin, and Patrick’s former communications manager, Kyle Sullivan. Also, she was calling activists, office holders, and state party officials, including Democratic Party chairman John Walsh, yesterday afternoon.

Longtime Democratic political consultant Mary Anne Marsh said there has been a crescendo of chatter among Massachusetts Democrats this week over Warren’s possible bid. The blog post, she said, “sounds like a candidate to me’’ and puts to rest any doubt about Warren’s intentions.

“It’s very clear from all the signs that Elizabeth Warren is putting a campaign together. It looks like she’s getting into the Senate race, and that she’ll make that announcement just after Labor Day,’’ Marsh said.

A group of activists is already planning for such an announcement. A political action committee called the Progressive Change Campaign Committee launched an online petition drive that it said had already attracted some 47,000 signers and $45,000 in donations.

Sullivan, reached yesterday, confirmed that he was working for Warren, but declined to comment beyond what was in the blog posting. Warren did not return a message left at her Cambridge home.

Timothy Buckley, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Republican Party, dismissed Warren’s overture, calling her “a liberal professor who believes in big government and higher taxes.’’

“Whoever said I’d rather be governed by the first 400 names in the Boston phone book than the faculty at Harvard knew what they were talking about,’’ he said, a reference to a widely cited comment from conservative William F. Buckley Jr.

Warren’s posting, titled “Coming Home,’’ reads much like a campaign kickoff, including a folksy retelling of her family history and her observations on how Washington is broken. Most tellingly, it includes her entreaty for Massachusetts residents to offer their ideas “about how we can fix what all of us - regardless of party - know is a badly broken political system.’’

“It is time for me to think hard about what role I can play next to help rebuild a middle class that has been hacked at, chipped at, and pulled at for more than a generation-and that that is under greater strain every day,’’ Warren wrote.

Many supporters had expected the Harvard law professor and national expert on the effects of bankruptcy laws on families to be President Obama’s nominee to run the consumer bureau. She had the idea for the new agency after the 2008 financial collapse and had set it up as the interim director, until leaving last month.

However, her populist attacks against banking institutions for their policies and opaque business practices rattled Wall Street and prompted across-the-party opposition among Republicans. The Obama administration never nominated her.

What may be most notable about her post yesterday is what it does not contain: any mention of Harvard University, where she has returned to teach. She had been on leave from the university while working on the consumer bureau in Washington.

Glaser said omitting any mention of the prestigious university was probably a strategic choice as she contemplates a run against Brown, who campaigned in a pickup and has emphasized his hard-scrabble roots.

“She will be very popular with party activists here in the state if she decides to run, and it does appear that way from this statement,’’ he said. “I think she has a very strong chance of getting the nomination. Beating Scott Brown? It’s hard for me to say at this point.’’

Theo Emery can be reached at temery@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @temery.

Correction: Due to a reporting error, an earlier version of this story misspelled the last name of Tufts University political science professor James M. Glaser.