Too late for MA Dems to pull a Torricelli?

posted at 10:01 am on May 21, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Elizabeth Warren may be providing an embarrassing sideshow to the national Democratic effort, but in Massachusetts, she’s the main event.  Warren’s use of unsubstantiated claims to slight Cherokee heritage during her career damaged her credibility, but accusations of plagiarism may end up derailing Warren’s career.  Is it too late for Democrats in Massachusetts to find a new candidate?  The Boston Herald asked the question, and the answer is — unlikely, although not entirely impossible:

“The Democratic Party is really stuck,” countered University of New Hampshire political science professor Andrew Smith. “They essentially cleared the path for her as a candidate, and they can’t get rid of her now. She could conceivably drop out, but I doubt that will be the case, and I doubt the party will try to push her aside.” …

Smith and some Democrats say the party can’t switch front-runners now — it’s probably too late for a big name that could attract big money to jump in and gather the 10,000 signatures needed by a June 5 deadline.

“They’re in a tough spot, but there’s not a lot they can do about it,” Smith said.

Warren had $10.9 million as of late March to Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown’s $15 million.

“There’s no one else who could get that money,” Democratic pundit Lou DiNatale said. “She herself was well known enough to attract that massive amount of money, so no, she’s not going anywhere.”

“Anyone who is talking about someone waiting in the wings to take her place simply doesn’t understand how the process works,” Democratic strategist Michael Goldman said, citing the tight filing deadline.

Oh, come now.  Democrats didn’t let issues like filing deadlines and state law prevent them from dumping Senator Robert Torricelli in 2002, when they fought to replace him with Frank Lautenberg when a campaign-finance scandal threatened to give the New Jersey seat to –gasp — a Republican!  The state Supreme Court ruled that the laws be damned, Democrats had the right to a candidate on the ballot who wasn’t about to get tossed on his ear by voters.

Besides, Democrats do have someone else on the primary ballot: Marisa DeFranco.  Last week, the immigration lawyer defended Harvard Law School for publicly proclaiming their coup in hiring a “woman of color,” but suggested that they could have expanded their palette beyond peach:

Warren’s primary opponent, Marisa DeFranco, who is trying to raise her profile in the race, is arguing that voters should be concerned about Warren’s “lack of a clear, consistent message” in response to the Native American controversy.

“I’m not sure what her answer is because it’s been so various,” DeFranco said today.

DeFranco said that, in general, it is commendable for universities to trumpet their hiring of minority professors. But she questioned why Harvard listed Warren as a minority.

“Come on, you have to look like a person of color,” she said. “You actually have to be a person of color.”

DiFranco has already qualified for the primary ballot, so Democrats wouldn’t have to get 10,000 signatures in just days to put an alternative up before the filing deadline.  If Warren withdrew, some of her campaign cash could certainly be transferred to DiFranco.  So why not just embrace the dark-horse challenger?  Unfortunately, Democrats in Massachusetts find themselves in a bind — no one’s ever heard of DiFranco, and now everyone’s heard of Warren’s problems with integrity.

They shouldn’t worry, though.  At some point this summer, when it becomes apparent that Warren couldn’t win a statewide contest for dogcatcher, Democrats will sue to get Vicki Kennedy on the ballot, claiming as they did in New Jersey that a withdrawal of the primary winner would present an unfair advantage to Republicans and that state laws should be ignored to get a poor, disadvantaged Kennedy on the ballot.  Knowing what we do of Massachusetts courts, we can expect the Torricelli option to be wide open.  And lest readers believe that such a move would demonstrate so much cynicism that it would never work, just remind yourselves of who represents New Jersey in the US Senate to this day.


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