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Elizabeth Warren forms exploratory committee to consider U.S. Senate bid

In a move that is sure to brighten the spirits of progressives across the United States, consumer protection advocate and respected law professor Elizabeth Warren has announced that she is forming an exploratory committee to consider running for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts as a Democrat:

“I think this was always part of the plan,” said Doug Rubin, a Democratic political consultant helping Warren with her pre-campaign analysis. “The whole point is for her to engage with people and listen to their concerns. This just allows her to do more of that.”

Warren has been traveling around Massachusetts this week conducting a self-described “listening tour.”

She had two sessions Monday, three Tuesday and Wednesday, and two today in Framingham and Shrewsbury.

Warren filed paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission listing her husband, also a Harvard professor, as the committee’s treasurer.

Records also indicate that she is being advised in legal matters by one of Seattle’s best known law firms, Perkins Coie, which provides counsel to the Democratic National Committee and President Barack Obama.

Warren has also launched a website, which currently only serves to accept supporter signups or online contributions.

Democratic activists in Massachusetts have had good things to say about Warren’s listening tour, which will continue in the wake of today’s announcement.

One activist wrote:

Warren wowed our group in Arlington today. The mood of the group was summed up by one veteran activist’s question on why Warren had not yet formally announced her candidacy for Senate: “So what are you waiting for already?”

Warren’s answer was spot on – if I run, she told us, it has to be from the grassroots. Campaigns are about a lot of people coming together. She told us that she needs to know that her message about fighting to preserve the middle class will resonate and that Massachusetts activists are with her. Judging by what I saw today, I think she need have no fear on that score. Go Elizabeth!

If Warren chooses to move forward and run, she will be able to tap some $100,000 in funds raised by the Progressive Campaign Change Committee’s “Draft Warren” effort, which has been going for weeks.

She will also be able to count on the support of EMILY’s List, which raises a considerable amount of money for pro-choice Democratic women each election cycle. (EMILY, for those who don’t know, does not refer to a person; it is an acronym which stands for Early Money Is Like Yeast).

“The EMILY’s List community has been telling me loud and clear that they want Elizabeth Warren in the race to beat Scott Brown,” said the organization’s president, Stephanie Schriock. “Today, they got a little bit closer to getting their wish.”

“I’m thrilled that Elizabeth is pursuing this next endeavor with the thoughtfulness and respect that’s been such a hallmark of her career. Starting a listening tour is not only a great way to find out what folks need, it’s a perfect contrast to Republican Scott Brown, who has yet to hold a single public town hall.”

Warren’s entry into the race could cause other Democrats to rethink their own plans, though it is unlikely she would be unopposed for the nomination.

Her candidacy will likely attract national attention – Democrats in Massachusetts and across the country are still sore about losing Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat a year and a half ago, and seem willing to back Warren with the same enthusiasm that Al Franken enjoyed when he successfully sought to reclaim the seat once held by Paul Wellstone in Minnesota from Republican Norm Coleman.

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