President Obama's decision not to pick Elizabeth Warren to head a new consumer-protection agency is pumping up speculation that Warren might challenge Republican Sen. Scott Brown, a top Democratic target in 2012.

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WASHINGTON — President Obama’s decision not to pick Elizabeth Warren to head a new consumer-protection agency is pumping up speculation that Warren might challenge Republican Sen. Scott Brown, a top Democratic target in 2012.

Democrats looking to take back the seat long held by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy said Monday that Warren would need to launch her candidacy sooner rather than later to counter Brown’s popularity across the state and his big campaign bank account.

“I don’t think she can wait much beyond Labor Day,” said Phil Johnston, a former chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party.

In a Rose Garden ceremony Monday, Obama introduced former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Obama vowed to resist any efforts to block its work.

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The bureau is a central feature of a law Congress passed last year that overhauled the rules that govern the financial sector. The agency will serve as a government watchdog over mortgages, credit cards and other forms of lending when it officially begins its work on July 21.

Warren is widely considered the architect of the bureau, and consumer groups wanted her to be named as its leader. But it had appeared unlikely that Warren could win Senate confirmation because of Republican opposition.

Republicans have already threatened to block Senate confirmation for Cordray. The 52-year-old is considered a Warren ally and has been working with her as director of enforcement for the agency.

Warren is expected to weigh her candidacy for the Senate seat in the coming weeks as she prepares to return to Harvard. At the White House on Monday, Warren said she wasn’t ready to think about her next career move.

The liberal group Progressive Change Campaign Committee on Monday began an effort to persuade Warren to run for Senate.

Warren’s image as a crusader on behalf of consumers against Wall Street and corporate interests would have strong appeal in a blue state like Massachusetts.

Polls show Brown is the most popular politician in the state, with nearly $10 million in his campaign account.

Faced with a crowded field, Democrats worry that a long, costly and divisive primary could dash their hopes of reclaiming the seat after their embarrassing loss to Brown in 2010.

Seven Democrats are already running, including Setti Warren, the first-term mayor of the affluent Boston suburb of Newton and the state’s first popularly elected black mayor; City Year youth program co-founder Alan Khazei; and Robert Massie, a former lieutenant governor candidate.

Recall election set

in Wisconsin today

Voters on Tuesday will decide the fate of one of the Wisconsin lawmakers who fled the state this year in an effort to block cuts to collective-bargaining rights for public workers.

Wisconsin is holding several recall elections involving nine state senators from both parties, but the balloting in the Green Bay area Tuesday will be a first definitive outcome in the series of elections that many see as a gauge of public sentiment about the agenda of Republicans who took control of the state this year.

At stake is dominance in the Senate, where the 19-14 Republican majority could shift if Democrats gain three seats.

On Tuesday Dave Hansen, a Senate Democrat, is running against David VanderLeest, a businessman who led the political movement to recall Hansen but has drawn only tepid support from some Republican leaders who tried to get a different candidate on the ballot.

Three Democrats, including Hansen, are the subjects of recalls because all of the Senate’s Democrats slipped away from Madison earlier this year and fled to Illinois to prevent a vote from taking place on collective-bargaining cuts Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, was pushing. Ultimately, the maneuver failed; Republicans managed to call a vote without the Democrats, and passed the law, but some voters said the Democrats had failed to stay in town and do their jobs.

Six Republicans are the subjects of recalls for the opposite reason. They voted for the cuts to collective bargaining — along with a series of budget cuts and other measures that Walker has proposed.

Tuesday, voters will also cast ballots in primary elections for the Senate seats of the other two Democrats who face recall, but the final elections will not be held until Aug. 16. Final elections will decide the Republican senators’ futures Aug. 9.

Reid Magney, a spokesman for the state’s Government Accountability Board, which oversees elections, said there had been reports of “a bit of confusion” from voters with so many elections taking place on different dates.


The Republican National Committee raised $19 million in the past three months but is still $17.5 million in debt. The committee said Monday that it had raised $36.6 million this year, including $19 million in the second quarter, and had $7.3 million in the bank. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus started his term in January with almost $25 million in red ink.

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