Elizabeth Warren urged to run for Senate

Panel Chair Elizabeth Warren listens during a hearing before the Congressional Oversight Panel that was created to oversee the expenditure of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) March 4, 2010 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Getty Images/Alex Wong

Panel Chair Elizabeth Warren
Getty Images/Alex Wong

Updated at 3:40 p.m. ET

Now that President Obama has chosen someone else to lead the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Elizabeth Warren's fervent liberal supporters want the Harvard Law professor to run against Scott Brown for the Senate seat once held by another liberal icon: Ted Kennedy.

The news that Mr. Obama is nominating former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to head the bureau has disappointed some liberals who wanted Warren to lead the new agency. Warren played a key role in creating the bureau, established with the 2010 passage of Mr. Obama's overhaul of Wall Street rules.

In a White House blog post, however, Warren gave Cordray her blessing, as have some of Warren's most enthusiastic supporters. "Rich Cordray has been a strong ally of Elizabeth Warren's and we hope he will continue her legacy of holding Wall Street accountable," Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said in a statement. PCCC collected over 350,000 petition signatures supporting Warren for the role.

Mr. Obama bypassed Warren for the job because Republicans in the Senate made it clear they would refuse to confirm her nomination. Cordray's nomination will still pose a challenge, but Cordray is still less of a target than Warren, who has clashed very publicly with Republicans over the past year.

Now that Mr. Obama has chosen a new leader for the bureau, liberals are taking consolation in the prospect that Warren could still champion consumer rights in Congress. Reports surfaced months ago that Warren may challenge Republican Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts when he runs for his first full term in 2012. Brown won the seat previously held by the late Sen. Kennedy in a 2010 special election.

Brown has no clear challenger yet, and the Massachusetts Democratic Party is encouraging Warren to get in the race, the Boston Globe reports. "I would love it if she were interested in joining the race," party chairman John Walsh told the Globe last week. "I would talk to her and encourage her in a heartbeat."

The Globe's Glen Johnson points out that Warren has no experience in elected politics and that Brown has a distinct advantage as heads into his re-election campaign, with $9.6 million in the bank.

Warren's lack of political experience hasn't discouraged her supporters, like The Nation's John Nichols, who writes, "Getting Warren into the Senate--with the platform to lead the fight not just for consumer protection but economic fairness--ought to be a serious consideration."

Ezra Klein of the Washington Post writes, "launching a Senate campaign that may or may not succeed seems like a clearly more effective way to protect her agency and further her ideas than being blocked from leading the agency she's built."

The Wall Street Journal's conservative op-ed page last week issued something of a challenge to Warren, telling her to run for Senate so she can push her agenda in public, "rather than in Washington's backrooms" as creator of the agency.

Update: When asked what she plans to do when she leaves Washington, Warren told CBS News, "I've been working 14 hours a day on this thing for more than a year to try to stand it up. I'm going to take my grandchildren to LegoLand."

On MSNBC, Warren said she needs time to think about whether to run for the Senate, the Hill reports.

"When I go home, I'll do more thinking then. But I need to do that thinking not from Washington," she said.

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