May 29, 2012
BOSTON — Her U.S. Senate campaign has little cash and no paid staff. Yet Massachusetts Democrat Marisa DeFranco is on the verge of qualifying for the September primary ballot if she gets enough votes at the upcoming convention in Springfield.
Consumer advocate and Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren is expected to easily win the party’s endorsement to the U.S. Senate. But DeFranco, a North Shore attorney, is gathering steam. Party officials say she will likely get the 15 percent of delegate votes needed to qualify for the primary ballot.
Some Democrats worry a contested primary could force Warren to divert her resources instead of focusing on the incumbent Republican, Scott Brown. And Warren's had a tough month. She has been dogged by the debate over whether or not she improperly identified as Native American in order to further her academic career — although a recent Suffolk University/7 News poll suggests most voters don’t care much about the issue.
Democratic Party chairman John Walsh said a DeFranco challenge won't do lasting damage to the Democrats in the fall general election.
“Elizabeth Warren has entered this race and has presented a somewhat historic level of support," he said. "Whether you look at the support she’s garnered on the ground, or financially, or her poll numbers, she really has come forward.”
As for the candidates in question, in conversations with WGBH News, both wanted to focus on the issues.
"We have been trying and trying and trying to pay attention to substance and issues in this campaign," DeFranco said. "We've been talking about a real jobs plan, how do we get people back to work. Those are things that matter to people on a day-to-day business. … They want to work hard, live the American dream and be who we are about in America."
For her part, Warren told WGBH News that she's been "meeting with people and talking about issues and really framing out what this election of 2012 is going to be about."
And Warren still had her sights primarily on incumbent Scott Brown: "The main thing is how to get out there so the voters of Massachusetts have the chance to see what the real differences are between what the Democrats are offering in this race and what the Republicans are offering."
The state Democratic convention is Saturday, June 2.
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