One of the biggest surprises of the Republican victories in the tumultuous 2010 mid-term elections was the election of Republican Scott Brown to the Massachusetts senate seat. Riding a wave of Tea Party support and Republican momentum, Brown out campaigned and out maneuvered a weak Democratic candidate, Martha Coakly, who thought that due to Massachusetts’ historically liberal leanings the senate seat was all but hers. She was mistaken of course and Brown won the senate seat shocking much of the nation.
However, now Scott Brown has a new challenger and holding on to that senate seat as an incumbent might prove to be a bit more difficult than winning it was back in 2010. Elizabeth Warren has recently thrown her hat into the ring for Kennedy’s long held senate seat and is proving a formidable challenger. Warren, a Harvard professor and long time consumer advocate who is mostly known for helping create the Consumer Protection Bureau and then being passed over by Obama to head it, has devoted much of her professional life researching working against large financial special interest groups. In addition to her scholarly work, she was appointed by senator Reid to the TARP oversight committee in 2008 and testified before congress on numerous occasions on financial issues. It was her tenacity and success in this arena that most likely lead Obama to pass her over in hopes that a more moderate head of the newly created Consumer Protection Bureau would be less controversial to newly elected conservative house members, who vowed to block her nomination.
While early predictions either favored Brown or put Brown and Warren neck and neck, a few missteps by Brown and the rising tide of anti-financial sector sentiments have begun to swing the tide slightly in Warren’s favor. Recently, Brown invoked angry sentiments when he made unflattering quips about Warren’s physical appearance when questioned about his nude photo spread in Playgirl. If Brown continues such missteps, and if public opinion against big moneyed interests continue to rise, then Warren, who is seen among many as a stalwart defender of the middle-class consumer against big money, could easily ride that wave to a Democratic victory in 2012.
In fact, it appears that public opinion is beginning so slowly turn. The New York Times reported on October 10, 2011 that Warren is out fundraising Brown and far out fundraising her democratic primary candidates, two of who have withdrawn from the race, and that favorable opinions of her amongst likely voters are growing. Current polls have Warren and Brown tied in the Massachusetts senate race. Not a bad performance for someone who just entered the race a month ago.