Huffington Post reported that Elizabeth Warren is announcing her Senate campaign for Scott Brown’s seat tomorrow.
As readers probably know, we believe that Warren has decided to drink a poisoned chalice handed her by the Democratic party hackocracy. The notion of a Senate bid was dangled before her as a bright shiny toy to get her to leave the her role as de facto head of the CFPB gracefully. And she is showing Stockholm-syndrome-style loyalty to the people who used her, offered weak to no support as she was abused by Republican Congresscritters and then fired by the Obama Administration.
Having her fight the uphill battle of trying to claim the Scott Brown seat is a no-lose proposition for the party. If she wins, they’ve reversed the embarrassment of losing a Senate seat in a blue state. And if she fails, her bid will have pulled out-of-state, financial services industry dollars into the likely-to-be-a-Republican-win-anyhow Scott Brown race, depriving Republican candidates of funding that might tip other races. Brown has already been soliciting based on the Warren threat even before this announcement.
Warren bears all the signs of being advised badly. Remember, for them, she is just another fee generating, presentable product in an tough race. It was to their benefit to tell her whatever it took to get her to run. Seasoned local observers said her six week listening campaign didn’t help her prospects; she should have fished or cut bait sooner. Her ties to Harvard are a weak point; elitism plays badly in much of the state. Yet her team is full of operatives who hew from similar backgrounds.
Even with favorable pre-bid media coverage (the Republicans have not yet pulled out their knives in Massachusetts, and she has the tail wind of sympathetic national coverage from her exodus from the CFPB), Brown leads by nine points. Boston Mayor Tom Menino, who controls a substantial voting machine and kneecapped a past progressive gubernatorial candidate, is a Scott Brown fan.
Moreover, her association with the Obama Administration is likely to prove more toxic as the campaign advances. The race for the Anthony Weiner seat is proving how Obama’s devil-take-the-hindmost calculus serves him at the expense of other Democratic candidates. His selling proposition has been reduced to being less awful than the rabid choices on offer from the GOP. That means he can continue to sell out the traditional Democratic base at little apparent cost (although he runs the risk of being defeated by low turnout among supporters-by-default).
By contrast, the disenchantment with Obama’s continued sellout is affecting local races. Even though every district has its own quirks, and New York’s 9th Congressional district is particularly quirky, the special election for Anthony Weiner’s seat is showing Democratic voters to be in a particularly sour mood.(Update 12:40 AM: the election was just called for Republican Bob Turner, at 53% versus 46% for David Weprin, this in a district with a 3:1 Democrat advantage in voter registration). Warren may come to regret her “standing shoulder to shoulder with the President” remark.
But more important than the difficulty of the campaign is whether this is a fight worth fighting. While the Democrats win no matter what, the calculus is vastly less favorable for Warren. She seems to ignore the cost, not just to her, but to her agenda, if she loses. It will be easy for opponents of banking reform to argue that her inability to win in a liberal state is proof her ideas have thin public support. And if she wins? She seems to be operating on the premise that she can be a celebrity Senator, be appointed to important committees, and have impact out of proportion to her standing as a freshman Senator. The ne plus ultra of celebrity Senators, Hillary Clinton, would seem to disprove that thesis. Hillary had to devote considerable effort to brown nosing her colleagues in order to win acceptance, including getting coffee for the men.
Ultimately, what good is running as a protest candidate for a body like the Senate? A real outsider, socialist Bernie Sanders who has no reason to be loyal to the Democrats, initially was a critical backer of Audit the Fed. He later played a Quisling role by (at Administration behest) proposing that the audit be limited to specific window during the financial crisis. Warren is relying on Democratic party backing; she will be expected to carry the President’s water in the Senate at least a fair portion of the time. That alone is too high a price to pay. Her best hope for independence is if he loses, but she is even less likely to win if Obama is turfed out.
For someone who is such a clear-headed analyst and communicator, Warren’s thinking about her future seems incredibly muddled. I wish her the best, but I do not see any happy outcomes from her decision to run for the Senate.