The mayor of Newton, Setti Warren, faced voters in Brockton and New Bedford Tuesday. These were the first campaign stops in Warren's quest for a new job: Scott Brown's U.S. Senate seat. Warren spent the day answering questions about why he's running for Senate so soon after becoming mayor.
Warren says when he ran for mayor two years ago, he didn't realize that Brown would become Massachusetts' new senator. Warren cites a number of votes Brown has taken to cut federal funding cities and towns have come to rely on.
"Community development block grant programs," Warren said. "Job training for people. Affordable housing for communities like Newton. It was unthinkable at that point in time that we'd have a senator that's voting against the interests of not only Newton, but other communities across the state."
Still, one question dogged him all day. Even in Brockton, a voter asked him about it.
"Feel you're finished with Newton? You've done enough for Newton?" the voter asked.
Warren says Newton won't suffer from his trying to do two things at the same time.
"We've got an outstanding team at City Hall that I've built," he said. "We've done a tremendous amount of work. I often spoke about the two balanced budgets that I've submitted. We've saved the city close to $8 million and delivered critical services."
Outside the Newton Free Library, Bob Grim was philosophical about the new mayor setting his sights on the Senate.
"I think it's time for somebody like Setti Warren to raise the flag for somebody who can defeat Scott Brown, and while I would much prefer that he stay as mayor of Newton, I think he'd make a tremendous candidate for senator," Grim said.
Boris Kuritnik pointed out that other politicians run for new jobs before they finish the old ones all the time.
"If you look at [President] Obama, he kinda did the same thing," Kuritnik said. "He jumped into the Senate, then jumped into the presidency."
Democrats are scrambling to find someone — anyone — who can defeat Brown. Warren pointed out Tuesday morning that Brown is not the only one with a military record.
"Many of you know I joined the Navy Reserves shortly after 9/11, and I served a yearlong deployment in Iraq as a Navy intelligence specialist," he said.
Warren is a protege of U.S. Sen. John Kerry: he served as Kerry's deputy state director. He is the only African-American in the Democratic Senate race. And he is the first elected official in the race. He faces Gloucester attorney Marisa DeFranco, Somerville activist Bob Massie and City Year co-founder Alan Khazei.
The big question is who else he will face. Foremost among those still trying to decide whether to jump in is Rep. Michael Capuano. When Brown beat the Democratic nominee, Martha Coakley, last year, many Democrats were left wishing their party had elected the feistier Capuano.
This program aired on May 10, 2011.