June 3, 2012
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren overwhelmingly won the support of her party at the Massachusetts Democratic Convention on June 2. Warren received support from nearly 96 percent of the delegates — a record, and enough to avoid a party primary in September. Warren also had the backing of the Democratic establishment and the endorsement of Gov. Deval Patrick, the state’s most popular pol.
Warren has been dogged in recent weeks by criticism over her claims to Native American ancestry. She used her convention speech to blast incumbent Scott Brown and to revive the enthusiasm that marked the early days of her campaign:
"Are you ready to take on Wall Street? Are you ready to take on Big Oil? Are you ready to stop the Republicans from taking over the United States Senate? Are you ready to tell Scott Brown to put on his $675 barn coat and go home? Are you ready?"
The speech also focused on Brown’s voting record and his stances on issues like the environment, job creation and student loans. As for the controversy over her heritage, she said Brown's primary campaign tactic "is to talk about my family and how I grew up. Well, I say this: If that’s all you’ve got, Scott Brown, I’m ready.”
Patrick said Democrats needed to get tough: "If we want to win elections in 2012, if we want to keep Barack Obama in the White House, win back our Senate seat, and move our country forward, if we want to earn the privilege to lead, then it’s time for Democrats to grow a backbone and stand up for what we believe."
Marisa DeFranco, the underdog who seemed to enjoy a burst of momentum last week, used her convention speech to make a final plea to voters to let her on to the primary ticket, saying, "Let’s have a good and healthy primary and go after Scott Brown all summer long together. We will be the stronger for it."
DeFranco championed liberal values, including single-payer health care and union rights. She attributed the day's results partly to party favoritism.
"Well, it’s Massachusetts politics. Of course it’s a machine. But that’s why I’m in the race. Because I have to believe there’s room for real democracy — that a candidate or person, who sees that they want to do something actually make a difference, doesn’t have to be rich. Doesn’t have to have machine backing," she said. "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.”
Warren now has a clean shot at Brown from now until November. The Warren-Brown race is expected to be the most closely watched Senate race in the nation.
The convention also paid tribute to retiring representatives John Olver and Barney Frank. Rep. Edward Markey said of the latter, "When they build a Mount Rushmore for liberals, Barney Frank is going to be up there."
Subscribe to WGBH News Emails