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Democrats pushing consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren to take on Scott Brown in 2012

May 24, 2011|By Lisa Mascaro and James Oliphant | Washington Bureau
(Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg )

Democrats are encouraging Elizabeth Warren, the Obama administration advisor setting up the newly established Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, to enter the Senate race in Massachusetts against Republican incumbent Scott Brown.

For the last several weeks, senior Democrats have been courting the Harvard professor, who is on leave this year to work as an administration advisor, viewing her as the best hope against Brown, whose populist campaign won the 2010 special election for the seat held by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, in a precursor to that fall’s GOP wave.

A Democratic source confirmed the overtures Tuesday and said that Warren is potentially interested but has not yet made a decision.

Warren was on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, testifying before a House Oversight and Government Affairs subcommittee about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau being established as part of the Wall Street regulatory overhaul signed into law last year.

Republicans have been adamantly opposed to the bureau and her appointment to run it. Brown, in particular, criticized the White House for avoiding the Senate confirmation process by naming Warren a “special adviser” to the bureau.

The Senate races are increasingly drawing attention as Republicans are within sight of the four seats they would need to take the majority in the chamber. Democrats are defending almost twice as many seats next year as Republicans, with highly competitive races looming in Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, and Ohio, among other states.

Adding Warren, Democrats hope, would force the GOP to spend money to defend the seat. Brown is amassing a significant war chest—and he has yet to draw a top-tier opponent.

Another Warren, Setti Warren, the mayor of Newton, Mass., announced earlier this month that he would run for the Democratic nomination, competing against Alan Khazei, Bob Massie and Marisa DeFranco.

Boston Mayor Tom Menino, a Democrat, said last week that Brown would be tough to beat.

"You know, I get criticized by my colleagues in the Democratic Party because I’m honest about it," Menino said. “I just say it’s very difficult right now to think about who can beat him.

Showing that he was thinking strategically about next year’s race, Brown this week became one of the highest-profile Republicans to come out against Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to privatize Medicare.

lisa.mascaro@latimes.com

james.oliphant@latimes.com

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