SPRINGFIELD — Marisa DeFranco gave it her best shot during her moment in the spotlight, but by the time she took the convention stage Saturday afternoon, she and everyone else in the Mass Mutual Center knew that she was enjoying the high point of her quixotic run for the US Senate.
DeFranco, the immigration lawyer from Salem who was challenging Elizabeth Warren in the Senate race, had run headlong into an immovable object: the state’s Democratic machine.
An hour after she left the stage it was official: Her bid to make September’s primary ballot had been crushed like a bug, with Warren receiving an astonishing 95.77 percent of the vote from delegates. Never doubt the ability of the insiders to enforce party unity.
It was an important day for Warren. And even factoring in the ease of winning over the ultimate partisan crowd, she performed very well.
Just as coming home can help an ailing basketball team, Saturday was an excellent day for Warren to perform on her own turf. No pesky questions about Native American heritage, just plenty of opportunity to bash her opponent. Scott Brown was pilloried as not just the senator of Wall Street, the senator of “big oil” and a “Mitt Romney Republican.”
“Two years ago, Massachusetts sent someone to Washington who seemed like a decent guy, but boy did he let us down,” Warren claimed. “In no time at all he chose Wall Street over Main Street, millionaires over the middle class, and big oil over big ideas.”
At least one of these charges is plainly false — when did Scott Brown ever claim to have any big ideas? — but Warren was successful at steering the campaign, at least for the moment, back to a debate about the future of the middle class.
In the immediate wake of her runaway victory, she challenged Brown to debate face-to-face. He has wasted no time taking her up on it, releasing a statement yesterday that he is ready to meet her on Dan Rea’s radio show.
It’s always hard to know how much significance to attach to state conventions, and this was no exception. Certainly the claim that this was somehow “historic” — while technically true — is overblown.
Here’s the problem. The delegates, bless their hearts, are the kinds of grass-roots activists that make campaigns function in the first place. They are passionate. They care. They despise the other party. They will happily spend Saturday morning driving to Springfield in the pouring rain to listen to Bill Galvin and Tim Murray.
All of which means they are nothing like most voters, many of whom were probably standing in line to see “The Avengers.”
Warren has had a well-documented rough month, what with all those stories about how proud she is of her undocumented Native American heritage, and whether it has ever helped her get a job. Last week she revealed a new detail, that her parents were forced to elope because of her mother’s Native American blood. She apparently never thought to mention this until Wednesday.
Warren has told so many stories, and had so many belated recollections, that it makes your head spin. Yet Doug Rubin, her senior adviser, was able to say with a straight face Saturday: “I think we’ve answered all the questions.” While I waited in line for a pretzel, some delegates expressed anger that the media keeps asking Warren mean questions. Truly, this was an easy crowd.
I doubt Warren has heard the last question about the Native American saga. But in the glow of a darkened convention hall this weekend, all was lightness and unity. The primary battle was over before it had ever begun. And the battle against Scott Brown is coming soon, one debate at a time.