Facing a partisan Congress and a campaign debt, Sen.-Elect Elizabeth Warren will take her Massachusetts seat for the 113th session in January as a politician who students and experts describe as an outspoken voice for the left.
Boston University assistant professor of political science Katherine Levine Einstein said since Warren has been involved with D.C. politics in the past, such as helping to form the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2010, she expects the senator-elect to continue focusing on consumer protection in the financial industry with left-leaning policies.
“I wouldn’t be surprised to see her stake out positions as a senator, particularly on consumer protection, her signature issue, that place her at the left-most flank of the U.S. Senate alongside legislators like Vermont’s Bernie Sanders,” she said.
Some politically active Boston University students said Warren would be an outspoken voice for the people, although others criticized her on her campaign’s debt.
Derek Maka, a Boston University College of Arts and Sciences junior who interned with Warren’s 2012 senatorial campaign, said in an email that he voted for her because he supported the work she had accomplished regarding bank regulations prior to her candidacy for the U.S. Senate.
“Seeing Warren question them from an official seat of authority will be very interesting and, I believe, satisfying,” he said.
Rumors have appeared over whether Warren would be appointed to the Senate Banking Committee.
Maka said Warren now faces the challenge of winning over Brown voters and earning a respected position in Congress among the Senate veterans.
“Having heard her speak on many different occasions, she has a very warm personality and will win over some Scott Brown voters,” he said. “With the Senate having a tradition of placing a great deal of respect in seniority, I could see Warren being scoffed at and ignored by more senior and conservative senators.”
Warren released a letter to supporters on Dec. 5 asking for help in erasing her campaign debt that officials estimated to be around $400,000. Despite raising $42 million, the senator asked supporters for donations.
This campaign debt is just one of the problems CAS junior and BU College Republicans vice chair Mara Mellstrom has with Warren.
Mellstrom said she is worried Warren will not be willing to step over the line during voting in Congress.
“To think that she plans to have any sway in talks of where our country is going economically when she is $400,000 in debt from her campaign is utterly abhorrent,” she said. “Elizabeth Warren will only act as a catalyst to the polarizing forces in Congress, voting with her party and being unwilling to pass bipartisan or Republican legislation.”
Warren’s campaign had incurred a $35.7-million expense amount by mid-October, according to reports from the Federal Election Commission.
CAS senior Josh Howard, who worked as an intern for Brown in the past and is a registered Independent, said he wanted to see how the campaigns measured up against each other in 2012’s election.
He said he had never heard of the campaign debt as a major issue, although Warren will have an advantage of being from a majority Democratic state to help her with removing any debt she has left over.
“For a senator, it’ll be fine,” Howard said. “She’ll write a book and she’ll be back in no time. This is a state that has been voting majority Democratic for over 50 years — she’ll figure it out.”