Sept. 21, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

With Warren Comes Hope: Is That Enough?

File Photo
Elizabeth Warren (above left) faces a tough Senate race in a Democratic primary with at least seven other candidates.

Massachusetts Democrats see the current field of candidates angling to take on Sen. Scott Brown (R) as deeply lacking. So it’s not a surprise some Bay State Democrats are excited about the potential of an Elizabeth Warren candidacy.

But the tenacious consumer advocate and academic, who is taking steps to run, faces a tough fight that will attract national attention given that control of the Senate is on the line.

Warren, untested as a political candidate, will have to win a long, contentious primary against at least seven others. She is up against history in a state that has never elected a female Senator or governor. And, most importantly, to win she’ll have to convince blue-collar, conservative Democrats — as well as independents who made up the majority of registered voters in 2010 — that she is in touch with their most pressing concerns.

She made an effort on that front Thursday in a column on a Massachusetts political blog. “Today, it’s harder than ever for middle class families in Massachusetts and across the country to get by,” Warren wrote at Blue Mass Group, all but declaring her strong consideration of a Senate bid.

“I left Washington, but I don’t plan to stop fighting for middle class families,” wrote Warren, who served as assistant to the president and special adviser to the secretary of the Treasury on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau until recently.

As she prepares for a bid, Warren is working with consultants Doug Rubin and Kyle Sullivan of Northwind Strategies, a person familiar with the matter told Roll Call. Both men have previously worked for Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D).

Massachusetts Democrats said serious questions remain about how effective a candidate she could be and whether she can win over voters in places such as Lowell, an old mill city of 100,000 people.

In 2008, Lowell residents voted 2-to-1 for Barack Obama. In a January 2010 special election, the city went 52 percent for Brown, then a little-known Republican state Senator.

State Sen. Eileen Donoghue (D), a former Lowell mayor whose district includes the city, said Democrats there are “on the more conservative side, working-class people, very much meat and potatoes.” She said Warren, whom she does not know well, would be a “tough sell” to her constituents.

“She may have a tough time relating and connecting to working-class Democrats,” Donoghue said.

Strategists said her academic background could be a political deterrent.

“I don’t think we beat Scott Brown with a Harvard professor,” said Scott Ferson, a Boston-based Democratic strategist who was Sen. Edward Kennedy’s (D-Mass.) press secretary in the 1990s.

“Elizabeth Warren is a very impressive person,” Democratic consultant Conor Yunits said. “I just don’t see how she gets elected.”

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