Atkins: It's Elizabeth Warren's world
WASHINGTON — She’s held elected office for only a little more than a year. She’s not on any ballot — and she swears she won’t be until 2018. Still, Elizabeth Warren is 2014’s most powerful star for the Democrats. But that star can flame out if she can’t help her party fend off a series of dire challenges.
Warren has taken on two jobs in addition to being the senior senator from Massachusetts. She’s a key campaigner for a host of Democratic candidates across the country. She’s also a political icon, a superhero to progressive Democrats — now known as the Warren wing of the party. With control of the Senate at stake in this year’s midterm election, Warren has emerged as a powerful weapon for Democrats. And as a result she’s everywhere. But that status comes with risks.
Within minutes of Scott Brown’s announcement that he was forming a committee to explore a Senate run against New Hampshire incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Warren’s team shot out a fundraising email on Shaheen’s behalf — though conveniently, the email link lets donors split their contributions between Shaheen’s and Warren’s campaign accounts if they wish.
A Brown win would be a major blow to the Warren brand — even before she bought further in by tying herself to Shaheen.
Not content to fight just her own grudge matches, she has already inserted herself into tough races across the country, making sought-after endorsements and raising cash through her PAC for a Level Playing Field. Not bad for a first-term senator, but if, as some polls and pundits suggest, the Democrats are on the verge of losing Congress entirely, she’ll be wearing it.
Warren, so far, has managed to deftly fan the flames of her hero status while still expertly maintaining her public reputation as the People’s Senator. The faithful affectionately call her “E-Dubs.” Yes, she has reached the cult status of celebs with shortened monikers such as the Biebs and J.Lo.
Warren manages to stay popular while keeping the press at arm’s length. Well known for eschewing the media except for carefully-chosen appearances, you won’t find her chatting with reporters in the halls of Senate office buildings as her colleagues do. Instead, her office releases YouTube videos, usually of her floor speeches or berating Senate committee hearing witnesses such as corporate executives accused of cheating consumers. She even takes on the administration, like last week when she laid into a Department of Education official for the agency’s decision to keep its contract with troubled student loan servicing company Sallie Mae. And yes, she even pops up in the Bay State for carefully-planned public appearances.Her new book, “A Fighting Chance,” hits store shelves in April, and she can probably rely on her progressive fan club to ensure it has respectable sales. But there is little even the political phenom known as E-Dubs can do about what any pol will tell you are the only numbers that matter. And that’s the election results in November.