Consumer advocate and Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Warren will announce today her candidacy for the Democratic nomination to challenge Senator Scott Brown, a Massachusetts Republican rated as one of his party’s more vulnerable incumbents in 2012.
Warren will be one of several Democrats running for the seat. Her planned announcement was confirmed yesterday in an e-mail from a campaign aide, Kyle Sullivan.
“The pressures on middle-class families are worse than ever, but it is the big corporations that get their way in Washington,” Warren said in a statement released by her campaign. “I want to change that. I will work my heart out to earn the trust of the people of Massachusetts.”
Warren, 62, served as an adviser to President Barack Obama, overseeing the establishment of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which officially began its operation in July. Republicans in Congress had signaled they would block her nomination to head the bureau, and Obama instead chose Richard Cordray, the former Ohio attorney general.
Brown, 52, won a special election in traditionally Democratic-leaning Massachusetts in January 2010 and is serving the remainder of the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s term. Kennedy, a Democrat, died in August 2009. Brown is now seeking a full six-year term.
“Democrats got the candidate they wanted in Massachusetts,” Nathan Gonzales, political editor of the non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report, said of Warren’s decision. “They believe she’ll be able to raise a lot of money to compete against Scott Brown.”
Other Democratic candidates in the contest include Setti Warren, the mayor of Newton; Bob Massie, the party’s 1994 nominee for lieutenant governor; and Alan Khazei, the founder of the nonprofit group City Year.
Warren’s visibility as a champion of consumers gives her potential appeal, but she could face a struggle as a political newcomer in her bid to take on Brown, said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute in Hamden, Connecticut.
“Campaigning is an art,” said Brown, who tracks Senate races but whose institute doesn’t survey in Massachusetts. “Some people are good at it and some aren’t. We don’t know what kind of candidate she’ll be.”
Democrats, who control 53 seats in the 100-member Senate, are at risk of losing their majority to Republicans in the 2012 elections as the economy has slowed and President Barack Obama’s approval ratings have sagged in national polls.
A total of 33 Senate seats are on the ballot next year, with 23 held by Democratic caucus members and 10 by Republicans. While analysts rate several of the Democratic-controlled seats as competitive, Brown is one of just two Senate Republicans viewed as at risk of losing next year. The other is Dean Heller, appointed to his post earlier this year.
All 10 of Massachusetts’s House members are Democrats. And Obama won 62 percent of the state’s vote in 2008.
Brown has proven a skilled fundraiser. He has raised $10.9 million for his campaign warchest, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.