, Salem, MA


May 30, 2012

Our View: Big test for upstart Senate candidate

Supporters of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren are under no obligation to help Marisa DeFranco obtain the minimum 15 percent delegate vote she requires to win a place on the primary ballot in September.

On the other hand, an organized effort to keep the Middleton attorney off the ballot would hardly enhance Warren's credentials in what promises to be a bruising fight with Republican incumbent Scott Brown this fall.

DeFranco, who practices immigration law in Salem, was among the half-dozen Democrats interested in taking on Brown before Warren burst on the scene with her Harvard credentials, background as a key Obama economic adviser and backing by the Washington establishment. But DeFranco is the only one who has resisted the entreaties of party bigwigs to withdraw from the race to leave the field clear for Warren.

Having obtained the 10,000 signatures necessary to appear on the ballot, she faces a major test this Saturday at Democrats' nominating convention in Springfield.

Party rules require that in order to run under the Democratic banner, candidates must obtain the support of at least 15 percent of the delegates at the nominating convention. As of this writing, it was unclear whether DeFranco — who trails Warren in terms of fundraising by the daunting margin of $41,613 to $15.8 million — has sufficient delegate support to meet that requirement.

We think it would be unfortunate for DeFranco, having worked so long and so hard, to be denied a place on the primary ballot. A primary fight might even help Warren, who is making her first run for office, hone her political skills over the summer by, for example, accepting DeFranco's suggestion they engage in a series of debates.

But it's up to DeFranco to make her case to delegates this weekend. Democratic Party chairman John Walsh told The Associated Press recently that he anticipates DeFranco will get the necessary support at the convention and "my personal opinion is that the party benefits from competition."

Warren's best bet is to maintain a neutral stance, as any skullduggery on the part of her camp will only add to the woes created by the ongoing controversy over her claims to Native American heritage.

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