Elizabeth Warren’s all-but-announced candidacy for the Massachusetts US Senate seat once held by Edward Kennedy is a state-based campaign. But it has national implications.
It’s not just that a Warren candidacy could provide Democrats with a needed pick-up of a currently Republican-held seat — although that’s a big deal for the party, which faces a dismal electoral map in 2012. If the Harvard Law School professor who became the chief advocate for real banking reform and the development of a federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau runs and defeats Scott Brown, R-Massachusetts, she will instantly become an essential spokesperson for progressive values in national economic, regulatory and fiscal policy debates.
Put Warren next to stalwarts like Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley, Minnesota Democrat Al Franken, Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin, California Democrat Barbara Boxer, a reelected Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders, a re-elected Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown, as well as progressive newcomers like Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin and Hawaiian Democrat Mazie Hirono, both expected candidates open Senate seats, and you’ve got the makings of what Paul Wellstone always wanted: a Senate Progressive Caucus.
The calculus extends even further with Warren, however. Her ability to grab the spotlight and use it to push the discourse to the left on economic issues that the media so frequently neglects makes the prospect of her candidacy and Senate service potentially transformative for movements and a party that will — no matter what the 2012 presidential election result — begin pondering sometime next year the challenge of identifying leaders of the post-Obama era.
The Warren calculus has not been lost of progressives and progressive groups that have indicated a clear intention to help Warren — whose criticisms of Wall Street will require her to raise money from the grassroots — mount a winning campaign.
Emily’s List is up with a new “Tell Elizabeth Warren: We’ve Got Your Back!” campaign.