After Caucuses, Dems Say Warren Will Fare Well Among Working Class

As Dorchester caucus-goers filed into the library of the Christo Rey High School in Savin Hill last week, volunteers from the remaining Democratic U.S. Senate campaigns urged them to support their candidate.

Marisa DeFranco, an immigration attorney running for U.S. Senate, was the only candidate trying to sway caucus-goers in person.

“I ask everyone to keep an open mind. This is a long process,” she said. “I am staying in the race.”

But most of the Democrats caucusing here, and in other working-class neighborhoods across the city, are supporting Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Warren, not DeFranco, to take on Republican Senator Scott Brown this fall.

Of the 14 delegates plus alternates who will represent Dorchester, the majority said they will endorse Warren at the Democratic Convention this June.

To make it onto the ballot in next September’s primary, candidates will need the endorsement of 15 percent of delegates, who are chosen at caucuses across the state this month.

“I think Marisa [DeFranco] sounds like she would be a good candidate in another race,” said Betsy Miessner, a first time delegate, after the caucus had concluded.

Miessner, wearing a “Warren for Senate” sticker on her jacket, first heard about the Harvard Law School professor years ago when she wrote columns on personal finance for the website TalkingPointsMemo.com. Miessner began following Warren’s column for advice on how to deal with student loans that she had accrued, and has been a supporter ever since.

“She really gets what’s going on with people’s lives,” Miessner says. “She knows what the middle class’s issues are.”

Marion Haddad, a 12-time delegate and former staffer for the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy ’54- ’56, said that she was excited by Warren’s strong background in consumer protection.

When asked if Warren fit the mold her former boss and the famed political family created, Haddad fell silent for a moment. “No,” she said, “but she’s close.”

Though it seems that Warren has secured the vote of many working-class Democrats for the primary, her potential in these key demographics during the general election is still unclear. To do what former candidate and Attorney General Martha M. Coakley failed to do in the last senatorial election, Warren will have to overcome Brown’s popularity and a disillusionment with Democrats that has taken root among this demographic.

“People have made up their mind on Scott Brown,” Democratic analyst Michael Goldman said. “A lot of people still have to decide if his opponent is someone they want to replace him with.”

BLUE-COLLAR BATTLEGROUNDS

Democratic leaders from Boston’s working-class wards have said that Warren will fare well in the general election among voters from their districts.

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