A race for Warren, not a coronation

Wednesday May 30, 2012

The high-profile U.S. Senate race between Republican incumbent Scott Brown and Democrat Elizabeth Warren has been the subject of debate and speculation for months now, both in Massachusetts and in Washington. For Ms. Warren, however, there is still the matter of a likely Democratic primary contest against Marisa DeFranco, an immigration lawyer who many Democrats wish would disappear. She won't, however, nor should she.

Ms. Warren gained national renown when Senate Republicans blocked her appointment as head of a new federal consumer protection agency that the Harvard professor essentially invented. When she jumped into the Senate race last fall she swamped the field of seven, prompting six men to drop out over the next few months. Ms. DeFranco, who entered the race last March, several months ahead of Warren, chose to stay in the battle.

An energetic and outspoken candidate, Ms. DeFranco is a proponent of a single-payer heath care system and other traditionally progressive causes. Her recent assertion in The New York Times that Ms. Warren is too focused on the need for increased financial regulation appears to be an attempt to undermine her opponent's strong point but it is ill-advised, putting her in the same camp as Senator Brown on an issue that resonates with Democratic and non-affiliated voters.

Ms. DeFranco must get 15 percent of the delegate vote at Saturday's state Democratic convention to make the primary ballot, and while the party is neutral, as it should be, it is no secret that many in the party would like to avoid a primary fight so Ms. Warren can keep her focus on Senator Brown throughout the summer. Ms. DeFranco appears likely to exceed the 15 percent vote necessary, which may actually benefit Ms. Warren by giving her campaign experience. She and her team need it, as demonstrated by their sluggish response to the endless controversy over the fringe issue of whether or not she has misrepresented herself as a member of an ethnic minority because the Oklahoma native is partially Native American.

We agree with Ms. DeFranco that "the democratic process should be messy." Democrats who want a coronation for Ms. Warren should not fear a messy primary battle that may end up producing a battle-tested candidate for the general election.


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