What Now in the U.S. Senate Race?

By Sarah Birnbaum

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June 4, 2012

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Elizabeth Warren at the state Democratic convention on June 2. (Michael Dwyer/AP)

 
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — U.S. Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts has congratulated his Democratic opponent, Elizabeth Warren, for winning her party's endorsement and said he wants a debate. Warren said on June 2 after winning her party’s endorsement that she will debate Brown and that she is ready. She won nearly 96 percent at the state convention, avoiding a primary.
 
With Warren's decisive victory, supporters are hoping the campaign can regain some steady footing. The campaign has spent weeks mired in controversy over whether Warren improperly identified as Native American to boost her academic career.
 
At the convention, Warren used her speech to go after Scott Brown and to signal the Native American flap is behind her:
 
"I am not backing down. I didn’t get in this race to fold up the first time I got punched. I got in this race because people are getting hammered and they’re counting on me to stand up to them. I’m ready," she said.
 
Warren's Democratic opponent, immigration attorney Marisa DeFranco failed to get the 15 percent of delegates to land a spot on September's primary ballot.
 
As late as the morning of June 2, Democratic state party chair John Walsh had been predicting that DeFranco would meet the 15 percent threshold, but at the convention there were practically no DeFranco supporters. Everyone was wearing Elizabeth Warren T-shirts and waving Elizabeth Warren signs.
 
Party leaders were saying a primary would hurt Democrats in their bid to unseat Brown and retain control of the Senate. That was convincing to delegates like Carol Thompson from Worcester, who said, "I would really like us to avoid a primary fight. So it seems to me we have enough on our hands with the Republican incumbent.”
 
DeFranco, for her part, blamed the party establishment. “Well, it’s Massachusetts politics. Of course it’s a machine. We’re supposed to be a government of the people, that means everybody, not just the people who are hand-picked or in certain cliques,” she said.
 
Just 3 days before the convention, as it looked like DeFranco was gaining some last-minute momentum, Gov. Deval Patrick, who earlier said he would stay neutral, pulled the rug from under DeFranco by endorsing Warren. Also, party bigwig and former governor Michael Dukakis, who tends to stay out of intraparty politics, was working the floor on Saturday, persuading delegates to back Warren.
 
In Warren’s victory speech she thanked DeFranco from the podium and said now she was ready to take on Brown: "It’s exciting to be here today. The Democrats have decided we’re ready to go! We’re ready!"
 
Both Brown and Warren have agreed to a debate, but it has yet to be scheduled.

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