Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren will campaign with three Democratic Senate candidates over the next week, as voters enter the final stretch of a midterm contest in which Senate control is at stake.
The freshman senator and longtime thorn in the side of Wall Street announced in a Monday blog post that she will campaign with Colorado Sen. Mark Udall and Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, both of whom are seeking second terms, as well as Iowa Rep. Bruce Braley, who is seeking to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin.
Of the three candidates, Franken is the most favored to win his race. The Minnesotan defeated Republican Sen. Norm Coleman by just 312 votes in his last race, but the GOP failed to field a top-tier challenger this year. RealClearPolitics’ polling average gives Franken an 11.5-point lead against GOP businessman Mike McFadden. Still, Warren’s post hypes “some polls” that suggest “Franken's lead may be slipping down to single digits.”
Meanwhile, Udall faces a much closer contest than his fellow freshman. RealClearPolitics’ average shows GOP challenger Cory Gardner edging Udall by 1.4 points in recent polls. Despite harboring ultraconservative views on social issues, denying climate science, and supporting last year’s government shutdown, Gardner has presented himself as a “new kind of Republican” who will break Washington gridlock. In her post, Warren writes that while Gardner is an “extreme conservative,” her colleague Udall “stands with women and families.”
Iowa’s Braley also confronts a tough race. Once expected to win a relatively easy victory, Braley suddenly finds himself in a neck-and-neck nail-biter against GOPer Joni Ernst, who leads by an average 1.2 points in recent polls. Blasting Ernst’s “reckless and dangerous agenda,” Warren writes that Braley “shares our values.”
While the Iowa contest is crucial for Democratic hopes of maintaining Senate control, Warren’s trip to the state will likely be closely watched by progressives who want to see her mount a presidential bid in 2016. This summer, The Hill reported that Warren was reluctant to campaign for candidates in Iowa and New Hampshire for fear that doing so would generate renewed speculation about a Warren 2016 campaign.
Like former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Warren has been in high demand as a midterm campaigner this cycle. Warren has stumped for Democratic candidates in territory that the conventional wisdom might suggest is inhospitable for a Massachusetts liberal, but her message of economic populism was cheered by audiences in Kentucky and West Virginia this summer. For Democrats seeking distance from President Obama, Warren is an ideal campaigner. In an interview with Salon last week, the senator took the Obama administration to task for “protect[ing] Wall Street,” but “not families who were losing their homes” and “people who lost their jobs.”