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Days before Democrats head to Springfield for the party's nominating convention, Gov. Deval Patrick on Wednesday endorsed consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren for U.S. Senate in a primary contest likely to feature two women vying to challenge Sen. Scott Brown.
In an email to supporters through his campaign, Patrick said Democrats are "lucky to have two strong candidates," calling both Warren and immigration attorney Marisa DeFranco "compelling people with a strong message."
Patrick's endorsement, however, is a departure from his usual stance of not getting involved in primary campaigns, with one notable exception being his endorsement of Barack Obama in 2008.
"The American Dream defines what it means to be American. Yet for too many people in the Commonwealth today, the American Dream is up for grabs. Elizabeth has lived the American Dream, and knows that it is worth fighting for. She understands that government has a role to play, not in solving every problem in every person's life, but in helping people help themselves," Patrick wrote in the letter.
"We need her thoughtful, pragmatic, compassionate, and reasoned voice in the Senate now to restore that Dream and help put it back in reach of all Americans," the governor continued.
Patrick's endorsement is one of the first strong overtures of support from a well-recognized public official in a campaign that has seen Democratic heavyweights such as Boston Mayor Thomas Menino hold back on early declarations of support for Warren's quest to unseat Brown.
The governor plans to join Warren at her campaign headquarters in Somerville Wednesday afternoon to meet with her supporters and speak to the press.
In 2009, Patrick waited until after the primary to back Attorney General Martha Coakley's special election campaign against Brown. Coakley defeated three other Democrats in the primary.
In March 2011 when it appeared the Democratic field would be much larger than the two remaining candidates, Patrick said, "I'm not picking one. I'm going to support the Democratic nominee."
But with Democrats this weekend expected to give DeFranco the 15 percent of delegates needed to secure a spot on the September primary ballot and some party officials wondering if a primary will be a distraction for Warren, who already enjoys a significant advantage in both fundraising and institutional support over DeFranco, Patrick's endorsement comes at a time when Warren is looking to solidify her standing as the frontrunner and respark the enthusiasm that has arguably waned since she first announced her candidacy.
Despite a recent Suffolk University poll showing 69 percent of likely voters believe Warren's claims of Native American heritage are not a significant story, questions surrounding her background and the role it played her hiring and promotion at Harvard Law School and elsewhere has dominated the discussion for weeks.
Patrick's letter focused on her creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and her "commitment to reforms in our financial system."
The governor also sharply criticized Brown, accusing the freshman Republican of "putting the politics of convenience ahead of the people of Massachusetts."
"Time and time again — whether through his votes against summer jobs for our youth, against ending billions of dollars in subsidies to oil and gas companies, or allowing student loan interest rates to increase — Scott Brown has shown he is willing to put the politics of convenience ahead of the people of Massachusetts. That has to end," Patrick wrote.
The state Democratic Party Convention will be held in Springfield on Saturday, where Patrick and other statewide elected officials are expected to address delegates. Party Chairman John Walsh has said he expects DeFranco to secure the required delegates to earn a spot on the ballot, and DeFranco recently challenged Warren to at least four debates between now and the Sept. 6 primary.
This program aired on May 30, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.
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