Reshaped race ended bid, Setti Warren says
Fund-raising woes hurt Senate run
NEWTON - Less than five months after announcing a bid for the US Senate on the sun-soaked lawn of his red brick home, Setti Warren stood in the same spot yesterday to say he would quit the race, declaring through the gray drizzle, “It was clear to me in the last days and weeks that we faced overwhelming political and financial odds.’’
In a speech to supporters, the Democrat added: “I got into this race for one reason and one reason only, to beat Scott Brown. And I’m getting out for one reason and one reason only, because I no longer believe I have a clear path to victory in this race.’’
Warren had been one of seven Democrats seeking their party’s nomination for the right to challenge Senator Scott Brown, a Republican seeking his first full six-year term in office.
The race has been reshaped in recent weeks by the entry of Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard Law School professor and former Obama administration official who was courted by Washington Democrats and had claimed much of the attention.
Today’s campaign fund-raising deadline loomed large for Setti Warren, who struggled this summer to raise money. His June 30 campaign finance report showed his camp was nearly $23,000 in debt, and it appeared that few of his backers from the mayoral race chose to support him again in his Senate bid.
During yesterday’s press conference, Warren’s wife, Tassy, and about a dozen staffers and supporters flanked the mayor with somber faces. Warren drew a parallel between his departure from the race and the epic collapse of the
“I don’t know what’s worse, the Red Sox losing last night or me being out here announcing what I’m about to announce,’’ he said. Warren said he will take the next week or two before deciding whether to endorse a candidate.
Reporters peppered him with questions about Elizabeth Warren and specifically about whether her candidacy prompted him to flee the race.
“Look, Elizabeth Warren has captured the imagination of Democrats nationally and here in the state, and she has changed the dynamic of the race, certainly for me, and it was clear to me because of that I was not going to be able to go on and win,’’ he said.
Setti Warren told reporters he was not explicitly asked by other politicians to leave the race, nor was he pressured to quit.
Warren’s departure from the Democratic field may be seen as a coup for residents of Newton, some of whom cried foul when Warren set his sights on the US Senate seat just 16 months after taking on the mayoralty.
But Warren, anxious to salvage a mayoral term that is less than two years old, bristled yesterday when asked by a reporter if he had a message for Newton residents who may have felt short-changed by his Senate run.
“First of all, I’m not ‘coming back’ to the mayor’s office,’’ Warren said. “I’ve been working very hard for the last few years, including after I announced. I’m so pleased and honored to be the mayor of my home city here, a place where I grew up, and we’re going to continue that work.’’
He declined to say if he will run again for higher office or seek reelection as mayor, adding that he will focus on his current job.
Representative Barney Frank, who had criticized Warren for making a push for the US Senate so soon after being elected mayor, released a statement yesterday praising Warren for putting the needs of his community before his personal goals.
“Mayor Warren is an articulate, thoughtful and dedicated official who should - and I believe will - play an increasing role in elective office,’’ Frank wrote. “His decision to defer running for an office of wider scope is a wise one, but political leaders don’t always decide wisely, especially where their ambitions are involved.’’
Warren, 41, grew up in Newton and graduated from Newton North High School, where he was class president. He enlisted in the US Navy Reserve in 2002 and, in 2007 was deployed to Iraq for nearly a year. He has also worked as an aide to Bill Clinton and Senator John Kerry.
Yesterday, Kerry said he admired Warren for his integrity as a public servant and campaigner. “Setti Warren showed a lot of guts and determination in putting himself on the line as a candidate, and he showed equal judgment, class, and sense of purpose in the way he ended that campaign today,’’ Kerry wrote.
Elizabeth Warren and Alan Khazei, another Democratic contender, weighed in on the departure, calling the mayor an honorable competitor.
Martine Powers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.