Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)’s campaign for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts hasn’t exactly gone according to plan. She has gone from one of the Democrats’ top recruits of 2012 to something of a national punch line. A Harvard Law Professor who had once been tapped by the Obama administration to police banks’ disclosure and transparency practices, Warren has had problems fully disclosing her past.
For years she claimed she was part Cherokee, even going so far as to allow Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania to count her as a “minority” professor. While her claim to be, at most, 1/32 Cherokee would make an interesting tidbit at a cocktail party, it doesn’t really amount to what most of us think of as a “minority.” It suggests, rather, someone stretching things a bit to make herself seem slightly more interesting. At worst, it could be a case of Warren stretching the truth to get advantages others don’t get. It’s that suspicion, and her less than forthcoming explanations, that has badly damaged her campaign.
For Massachusetts Democrats with whom I’ve spoken, the whole episode is a painful reminder of the disastrous 2010 campaign of another star recruit, Martha Coakley. The state’s Attorney General was soundly defeated by current Sen. Scott Brown after she proved to be totally tone-deaf on the campaign trail. Worse was her apparent sense of entitlement, displayed when she famously dismissed the idea of shaking hands with actual voters. Fauxcohontas seems to be reading from the Coakley script.
Today, the Boston Herald, which, along with Breitbart News, has been leading the vetting of Warren’s past, reported that Massachusetts Democrats are, for now, sticking by their squaw:
Bay State Democrats are standing by their woman, saying they’re confident in embattled Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren — now three weeks into a persistent scandal over her claims of Native American heritage — though critics say she’ll arrive at her party’s state convention next month battered by it.
Its the “three weeks into a persistent scandal” that is a problem for state Democrats. The entire mini-scandal should have been a one or two day story, at most. That it’s going well into three weeks is a testament to Warren’s weakness as a candidate. She has neither the self-awareness nor humility to admit a mistake. She also doesn’t have the discipline to stick to a message, as her responses to the scandal have been all over the map. Even worse, her failure to disclose the full truth could be a foundational blow to her candidacy.
Its always the cover up that dooms politicians, rarely the crime. Remember, almost the entire justification for her candidacy is that she alone was tough enough to stand up to the financial industry and police their ethics. How could voters trust that if she can’t even get her own ethics right?
Time is running out for Democrats to recruit another candidate. The filing deadline is June 5th, and a candidate would need to start almost immediately to get the 10,000 signatures need to run in the primary.
Fortunately for Bay State Democrats, there already is an alternative in the Democrat primary. Maria DiFranco, a respected immigration lawyer, has already qualified for the democrat convention, the first step in the party’s primary process. She is already attracting some attention:
DeFranco has made this a race on the Democratic side. She’s progressive not only in policy outlook but in party outlook as well. Too often of late party leaders in Washington have tried to dictate nominees to state and local organizations. It is not a critique of Warren to note that once party bosses in Washington and Boston made it clear that she was their candidate, most other viable candidates gained little traction and were very quickly shown the exit.
The democrats will hold their state convention next month. If DiFranco gets 15% of the vote at the convention, a threshold she is expected to meet, she will win a place on the primary ballot. The state’s primary isn’t until late September, giving Democrats a long few months to reconsider their options. Its also a long time for Warren to continue digging herself into a political graveyard.