Three prominent liberal activists — including the president of a large union — are calling for Elizabeth Warren to challenge Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, insisting that the Massachusetts senator’s participation in a competitive primary process would benefit the party.
Warren hasn’t budged from her insistence that she won’t pursue a White House bid. But the new voices calling for her candidacy represent a new phase in the progressive push to persuade her to run, just days after Clinton appeared alongside two other union chiefs on a panel in Washington — and not long before Clinton is expected to launch her long-anticipated presidential bid.
“We agree with former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, the Boston Globe, and many others that Sen. Elizabeth Warren would be a strong candidate, and that if Hillary Clinton also declares, the debate between the two of them would be critical for our nation,” write Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America, and Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace USA — the environmental group — in a new letter published by Run Warren Run, a campaign organized by liberal political organizations.
The letter’s authors argue that Democrats deserve a lively debate over issues, including the role of money in politics, voting rights, global trade, global warming and worker’s rights, and that the “country needs new ideas and new leaders.”
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“If we end up with a single Democratic candidate — and little to no debate in the primaries — those of us unlikely to support a Republican nominee will be left voting for a Democrat who may be opposed to the Republican agenda but is not necessarily a champion of the vision of change that millions of us seek and that this country needs,” write Cohen, a Democratic National Committee member who endorsed then-Sen. Barack Obama over Clinton in 2008, and Leonard.
Run Warren Run, the campaign jointly operated by liberal groups MoveOn and Democracy for America, will also unveil an op-ed by Javier Valdes, secretary of the Working Families Party in New York and a leader of a progressive political committee focused on Hispanics, encouraging Warren to run for the sake of spurring a debate about “racial and immigrant justice.”
A significant group of liberal activists, academics and groups — including New York’s Working Families Party and The Boston Globe’s editorial board — have lined up behind the efforts to draft Warren, often citing the importance of a competitive primary rather than any animus toward Clinton. But many progressives regard the presumptive front-runner as being too close to Wall Street. They believe Warren, an antagonist of big banks, represents an attractive alternative despite her repeated insistence that she will not run. At the very least, they expect she could help pull Clinton farther to the political left.
The addition of Cohen to the pro-Warren group is sure to complicate organized labor’s role in the nominating process. Most labor leaders have yet to weigh in, but many have a long history with Clinton and some have appeared with her at recent events.
Just last week, Clinton spoke on a panel in Washington co-sponsored by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which endorsed her early in her failed bid for the 2008 nomination. She sat next to AFSCME President Lee Saunders, and close by the American Federation of Teachers’ Randi Weingarten.
With Clinton enjoying large leads in early state and national polls, any serious competitor on the left would have considerable ground to make up.
Former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley appears to be positioning himself as the primary liberal Clinton alternative in the Democratic field, recently stepping up his implied criticisms of the former secretary of state. Bernie Sanders, the independent Vermont senator, could also challenge Clinton from the left, but it is unclear whether he would run as a Democrat.