Massachusetts Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren avoided a primary challenge on Saturday, winning the endorsement of the state Democratic Party by reaping an overwhelming percentage of the vote and delivering a feisty retort to her rival, GOP Sen. Scott Brown.
Immigration lawyer Marisa DeFranco had hoped to earn a spot on the ballot by getting at least 15 percent of the vote. But Patrick and her supporters lobbied intensively, persuading delegates that they needed to avoid a distraction in taking on Brown. The delegates ended up giving Warren nearly 96 percent of the vote; party officials said no candidate in the last 30 years had ever achieved the 86-percent figure that was needed to clear the field.
"Elizabeth Warren made history today because of the strength of her impressive grassroots organization and her record as a tireless advocate for middle-class families throughout Massachusetts," Massachusetts Democratic Party Chair John Walsh said in a statement. "Never before have Massachusetts Democrats rallied around a candidate with such passion and determination. We think that Elizabeth is the candidate who can beat Scott Brown and we know that she will be a senator who will make Massachusetts families proud."
After the vote, Warren delivered a speech in which she assured the crowd she is prepared to deal with the controversy over whether she unfairly claimed Native American ancestry, a gaffe that has led some to question whether the first-time candidate is prepared to unseat a well-funded incumbent.
"If that's all you've got, Scott Brown, I'm ready," she declared to cheers. "And let me be clear: I am not backing down. I didn't get in this race to fold up the first time I got punched."
A Boston Globe poll, published Saturday and conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, shows Brown leading Warren, 39 percent to 37 percent, with a quarter of voters saying they are undecided or prefer another candidate. Brown's lead is not statistically significant; the poll's margin of error is plus-or-minus 3.8 percentage points. The poll was conducted mostly before Warren admitted she told past academic employers she was a Native American.