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Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard professor and consumer advocate who played the lead role in establishing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that is at the centerpiece of last year’s Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, is officially exploring a run for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts.

Her website is live and she has reportedly been meeting with Democratic activists around the state in recent weeks.

Warren is a darling of progressives who appreciate her no-nonsense approach to the banks and lenders at the heart of the financial crisis.

She would be attempting to unseat Scott Brown, the freshman Republican who was swept into office with Tea Party support but has voted like a moderate; he supported the Dodd-Frank bill, for one, and has good approval numbers.

“The hurdles are people remembering the last Democratic nominee was [Attorney General] Martha Coakley, and obviously there are some similarities between the two, and so getting over the stigma of a rematch with a similar profile Democrat” is an issue for Ms. Warren, David Paleologos, director of the Political Research Center at Suffolk University in Boston, told The National Memo.

He called her winning the campaign a “daunting task” in light of Scott Brown’s strong numbers against a lot of other Democratic icons in the state — who have far better name-recognition than Warren does.

“She doesn’t have a geographic base,” he added, unlike a lot of the other state and local officials considering runs. He said the nature of redistricting following last’s year census would be important to her hopes in the Democratic primary, as well as the turnout in the state’s most progressive areas — Cambridge, Newton and Brookline among them.

“If…there are intense fights in the progressive precincts, she’s the windfall beneficiary. That helps her. Her strategy has to be: get what you can out of the non-progressive areas, and… run up big margins [in progressive territory].”

When it comes to the general election, with Barack Obama at the top of the ballot — he surpassed 60 percent of the vote in the state in 2008 — labor and the progressive community should well come out in force, and we ought not be shocked if he makes a stop or two in this safe-blue state next fall just to drive up turnout.

Warren won’t be able to accuse Brown of being a pawn of the banks (though he did press for exemptions for smaller and community banks from investment rules in the reform legislation), but she can say he’s a weak centrist without a clear ideological narrative or motif — for her, that’s protecting consumers from bad-faith actors in the financial community.

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