The "Draft Warren" movement is a waste of progressive energy

At least three progressive Democratic groups (Democracy for America, MoveOn, and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee) are mobilizing liberal Democrats to support U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren for president. The idea is to make sure the 2016 campaign includes a strong voice for economic populism. In a statement released yesterday, Democracy for America’s executive director Charles Chamberlain said one of the group’s “top priorities will be ensuring that the battle for the Democratic nomination is a contest, not a coronation.” I’ve enclosed their full press release after the jump.

There’s a first time for everything, and I believe this is the first time I’ve disagreed with DFA’s strategy. Warren has consistently said and continues to say that she is not running for president. I don’t believe she is open to changing her mind, unless Hillary Clinton surprises everyone by not running. Instead of wasting time trying to draft a candidate who doesn’t want to seek the presidency, progressive groups should wait until the field is set and then support the contender who most closely aligns with their interests.

Although I would certainly consider caucusing for Warren if she did run for president, progressives need her to be focused on her work in the Senate, not on raising money for a hopeless Democratic primary campaign. Warren can be a strong voice, not only against bad language Congressional Republicans try to sneak into legislation, but also against Obama administration shortcomings on personnel and policy. Everyone has a role to play, and we need outspoken liberals in the Senate, especially with Tom Harkin retiring.

Finally, it’s hard to disagree with Governor Howard Dean’s contention that “Hilllary Clinton is by far the most qualified person in the United States to serve as President.” The only Democrat who even comes close is Vice President Joe Biden, who said this week that he will decide whether to run again “at the end of the spring or early summer.” Clinton has the highest name recognition and sky-high favorables with almost every key Democratic constituency.

I understand the concept of a candidate like Warren pushing Clinton to the left during the primaries, but let’s get real: a Harvard professor turned senator from Massachusetts, in the middle of her first term, is not going to be elected president, even with the “Big Blue Wall” propping her up. Whereas Clinton would go into the general election as the front-runner against almost any conceivable Republican nominee.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: A Bleeding Heartland reader shared an e-mail that some former Barack Obama campaign workers received this morning. The Ready for Warren Presidential Draft Campaign PAC is urging “Obama alumni” to sign a petition calling on Warren to run for president in 2016. I’ve enclosed that message at the end of this post.  

Democracy for America press release, November 10:

Gov. Howard Dean endorsing Hillary Clinton’s potential presidential run; Democracy for America is still Drafting Warren

Citing high member support, national progressive PAC reiterates decision to join emerging effort to draft the MA Senator into the presidential race

BURLINGTON, VT — Following the release of a POLITICO editorial by Governor Howard Dean announcing his intention to support the potential presidential candidacy of Sec. Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic Party nomination, Democracy for America reiterated its decision, yesterday, to join the emerging effort to draft Sen. Elizabeth Warren into the Presidential campaign.

Statement from Charles Chamberlain, Executive Director of Democracy for America, on Gov. Dean’s Op-Ed:

“Democracy for America respects Governor Dean’s early support, as well as the commitment of the 24% of DFA members who voted for Sec. Clinton as their top choice in DFA’s recent poll of our membership on the 2016 presidential race.  Senator Clinton would make a fantastic President and, should she win the nomination, DFA members will work non-stop to help her make history by becoming our nation’s first woman President.

“However, Senator Elizabeth Warren, not Secretary Clinton, recently won first place in our membership poll by nearly twenty points. Senator Warren’s record of standing up to Wall Street and the big banks in the fight against income inequality is inspiring Americans and progressive activists nationwide.  The strong support for Warren and the bold populist progressive vision she’s outlined for our country is why, later today, we’ll ask our members to ratify our decision to join the emerging Draft Warren effort.

“We’ve said from the very beginning of our discussions of 2016 that one of DFA’s top priorities will be ensuring that the battle for the Democratic nomination is a contest, not a coronation.  Our members clearly agree with that priority which is why we’re planning to work on drafting Warren into the Presidential race and aren’t ready to follow the Governor’s lead in making an early endorsement of Clinton.” — Charles Chamberlain, Executive Director, Democracy for America

Facts about Democracy for America, the 2016 Presidential Election, and Gov. Howard Dean:

Yesterday, Democracy for America announced that it would ask its members to ratify its decision to join the emerging Draft Warren effort.

Conducted immediately following the 2014 mid-term election, Elizabeth Warren placed first in DFA’s 2016 Presidential Pulse Poll of its membership with 42.6% of the vote. Bernie Sanders placed second with 24% and Hillary Clinton placed third with 23%.

Full results of DFA’s 2016 poll can be viewed (and manipulated) at: poll.democracyforamerica. com/results

While now chaired by Gov. Dean’s brother Jim, Democracy for America was founded by Gov. Dean and he continues to serve in a strategic advisory role for the group.

Governor Dean has a history of endorsing early in Democratic primaries, often backing unexpected candidates, like NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2013.

Governor Dean and DFA often agree on endorsements. In 2014 alone, DFA and Dean raised and spent over $1 million for their jointly-endorsed, top priority “Dean Dozen” candidates.

E-mail that former Obama staffer Christopher Hass is circulating to alumni of the Obama campaign, received on December 11:

Hey friends,

Some of you may have already seen this passed around by other Obama folks over the past few days, but I wanted to make sure as many fellow OFA alumni as possible had a chance to see and take part:

Later this week, a public letter is going to be released with the names of former OFA staffers who are urging Elizabeth Warren to run for president.

This is born out of a lot of things — not just affection for Warren (though there’s plenty of that) but also the desire for there to be a real, competitive primary in 2016 that will make our party, our eventual candidate, and our country stronger.

I’ve seen the list of signers, and there’s a lot of great people on it. If you want to add your name, today is your last chance.

Here’s the letter: http://bit.ly/1ovli8e

Don’t doubt for a minute that the media, the political world, and the progressive movement still have a ton of respect for what you did and what we all accomplished together. No matter where you are or what you’re up to now, your voice matters here.

thanks,

c.hass

Christopher Hass

(Obama for America 2008, Organizing for America, Obama for America 2012, Organizing for Action, Ready for Warren)

Here’s the text that appears on the linked page:

We helped elect Barack Obama — now we’re calling on Elizabeth Warren to run in 2016

We believed in an unlikely candidate who no one thought had a chance.

We worked for him — and against all odds, we won in Iowa.

We organized like no campaign had organized before — and won the Democratic primary.

We built a movement — and the country elected the first-ever African American president.

We know that the improbable is far from impossible.

Now, former staffers from President Obama’s campaigns, along with former staffers from OFA, are joining with the thousands of Americans who are calling on Elizabeth Warren to run for president in 2016.

Rising income inequality is the challenge of our times, and we want someone who will stand up for working families and take on the Wall Street banks and special interests that took down our economy.

If you’re an Obama alum, add your name to urge Elizabeth Warren to run for president in 2016.

* Required

First name *

Last name *

Email *

Phone number (optional)

Current location *

City, state

What was your title on the Obama campaign or with OFA? *

Ie: Field Organizer, Data Director, Deputy GOTV Director, etc.

I worked for *

 Obama 2008

Organizing for America

Obama 2012

Organizing for Action

PIC 2009

PIC 2013

Convention 2008

Convention 2012

Other:

Where did you work with Obama/OFA? *

City, state

NOTE: By adding your name, you are giving permission for Ready for Warren (the Ready for Warren Presidential Draft Campaign PAC) to include your name in our list of Obama alumni who think that Elizabeth Warren should run in 2016, which we will make public with the above letter with names and titles. Contact Erica AT ReadyForWarren.com with any questions. Thank you!

  • Clinton

    I would in fact love to see a Clinton/Warren ticket. That would be amazing, but obviously, far fetched. In a perfect world….

  • Bernie Sanders

    My dream ticket would be Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren.

    • I love Bernie

      but with Republicans controlling both houses of Congress and Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s days on the Supreme Court possibly numbered, we can’t afford to nominate anyone who can’t win in November.

      • That would be my dream D ticket as well

        Think of all the money that would free up to use in other races. It would be Branstad / Hatch on a national level.  

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