Massachusetts Democrats Want Warren As Vice President; How Would That Affect the U.S. Senate?

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A plurality of Massachusetts Democrats would like to see U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren serve as vice president — a move that would have consequences for the party in the U.S. Senate.

An Emerson College poll conducted from May 4 to May 6 found that 29 percent of Bay State Democrats had Warren as their top pick to be Joe Biden’s running mate. After her, California U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (21 percent) and Minnesota U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (17 percent) followed.

Part of the reason why women were the top three choices is that Biden has committed to picking one as his VP candidate.

So what would happen if Biden ends up picking Warren and winning the presidency? Warren has already said she would accept the nomination if asked, so there is at least a theoretical chance that it ends up happening. She doubled down this past week by defending Biden against charges from former staff member Tara Reade that he sexually assaulted her in 1993.

For Biden, Warren brings the pluses of energizing the left wing of the Democratic base and relishing the role of attack dog usually assigned to vice presidential nominees. Warren’s minuses include high unfavorability ratings, abrasive personality, and dishonesty.

But what might such a pick mean in Congress?

Democrats would face a setback in the Senate — at least temporarily.

The seat Warren currently occupies could be crucial, since the Senate could end up with a 50-50 split following the November 2020 election.

One possible scenario has Republicans losing four seats (say, Maine, Colorado, North Carolina, and Arizona or Iowa) and picking up Alabama, where a Democratic incumbent is the most vulnerable in the country. That would mean Democrats would control the Senate because under the federal constitution the vice president is the tiebreaker.

However, if that somebody were Warren, and if she were replaced by a Republican, then the GOP would maintain control of the Senate, by a 51-49 margin.

Even if Democrats win an outright majority in November or Republicans maintain control of the Senate, losing Warren could hurt Massachusetts Democrats.

Current Massachusetts law does not permit the governor to fill a vacancy in the U.S. Senate. (The Democratic-controlled Massachusetts Legislature most recently changed the law after Charlie Baker, a Republican, became governor in 2015.)

Instead, the governor is supposed to a call a special election to fill the vacancy.

In theory, it’s an attractive race for a current office-holder because a special election is a free shot – an incumbent doesn’t have to give up his current seat to run for it.

If the senior senator’s seat becomes available in the middle of her term, a special election sometime in the middle of 2021 to fill it would likely draw high-profile Democrats in the state, including, possibly, U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-Dorchester); Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey; and U.S. Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-Newton), if he doesn’t knock off current U.S. Senator Ed Markey in the September 2020 Democratic primary. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh might also make a formidable candidate.

It’s not clear who might run on the Republican side.

Baker would be an obvious contender, but has sounded uninterested in federal office and seems focused on winning a third term as governor in 2022.

Geoff Diehl, a former state representative who won the Republican nomination in 2018 but lost to Warren in the general election, could run again.

To be sure, whoever emerges from the Democratic special primary would be the odds-on favorite to win the seat.

But in a special election, who knows what would happen? In January 2010, then-little-known state senator Scott Brown became a U.S. senator by upsetting then-attorney general Martha Coakley (a Democrat and heavy favorite) in a special election following Ted Kennedy’s death. Brown was the first Republican to represent Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate since Ed Brooke lost to Paul Tsongas in 1978.

Although famously tilting left, Massachusetts voters tend to give Republicans a look when they run for an open seat statewide. Even Gabriel Gomez, who offered little more than his military service when he ran as a Republican for U.S. Senate in 2013, had a respectable showing against Markey, a longtime Democratic congressman, after John Kerry resigned from the U.S. Senate in 2013. Gomez got 44.6 percent of the vote to Markey’s 54.8 percent.

Of course, if Biden picks another running mate, the question is moot. It’s also moot if the Democratic nominee for president loses.

According to, the current betting odds of Warren becoming Biden’s running mate are 11 to two. She trails both Kamala Harris (nine to four) and Amy Klobuchar (nine to two).