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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Waiting for Elizabeth

The late Nebraska Sen. Roman Hruska certainly never had the current crop of Massachusetts Senate Democratic hopefuls in mind when he issued his defense of mediocrity. But then again, he probably wasn't thinking about the office's current occupant either.

Nonetheless, diehard Massachusetts Democrats spent a glorious June Saturday in the Tsongas Center listening to six wannabees for the right to take on Scott Brown. Their collective name recognition and/or political experience has party leaders wringing their hands in angst over the thought of giving Brown what amounts to a free pass.

No offense to Alan Khazei and Bob Massie, earnest men who have already failed at tries for statewide victory.

Setti Warren and Tom Conroy? Come back when you have some more experience under your belt.

Herb Robinson and Marisa DeFranco? Admire your interest in public service but who the heck are you?

The Democrats' problem is similar to one that has plagued the Massachusetts GOP for decades -- no farm team. Members of the congressional delegation aged in place waiting for an opening after John Kerry snatched the mantle dropped by Paul Tsongas in 1984. The one-time young bloods are now eligible for Social Security and Medicare, even if their federal benefits are probably better.

Even "youngsters" like Mike Capuano and Steve Lynch are waiting for a more surefire shot when/if Kerry steps aside to become Secretary of State in the second Obama administration. The best of the rest was Martha Coakley, and we all know how that turned out.

So Democrats are hoping for a lightning strike similiar to the one that found Brown in the right place in the right time. The GOP incumbent has popularity and a war chest, but could be vulnerable to a well-financed opponent who highlights his sorry record of siding with bankers over the unemployed.

And that's where Elizabeth Warren comes in. The Harvard Law School professor has given national Republicans agita with her defense of consumers over bankers.

The GOP is adamant they will not approve Warren as the first head of the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau created by the Dodd-Franks law to rein in financial abuse. So adamant they won't allow the Senate to recess and give Obama a chance to make a recess appointment.

Naturally that has the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee drooling, but leaves local leaders chafing at the intrusion. Not that state Democratic chairman John Walsh has a problem with a high-profile national candidate).

Warren hasn't said no, only that she is focused on creating the office that Republicans insist she will never be allowed to lead. Her appearances on talk shows suggest she will be a well-spoken, articulate candidate. And unlike the incumbent, she has never posed nude for a national magazine (as far as we know).

So the hand writing may indeed be on the wall for a showdown between the friend of consumers versus the friend of bankers.

All we have to do is get through the preliminaries.

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