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    Warren bolsters Democratic party’s funding

    Money-raising aids Shaheen, other candidates

    Senator Elizabeth Warren
    Joshua Roberts/REUTERS
    Senator Elizabeth Warren

    WASHINGTON — Elizabeth Warren has played the role of dutiful freshman in the Senate, careful to avoid upstaging veteran colleagues despite her high national profile and enthusiastic liberal followers. But outside the Capitol, her ability to raise money for Democrats is giving her standing beyond her newcomer status.

    The Massachusetts lawmaker has raised $1.1 million for the party’s candidates and helped the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raise $1 million more, according to her aides. This year, with elections in November, she has said she will do more.

    A breakdown of Warren’s fund-raising so far, provided by her political operation at the Globe’s request, shows she has spread her early efforts to nearly every Senate contest in the country — from blue states such as Illinois, where Richard Durbin has a relatively safe seat, to more conservative areas such as Louisiana, where Mary Landrieu faces a tough reelection battle and has tried to distance herself from her party’s liberal wing.


    In all, Warren has helped 24 candidates, mostly in 2014 Senate races.

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    “It is absolutely critical that we keep a Democratic majority in the Senate,” Warren said in a recent interview, adding that retaining that majority is essential to her strategy of using committee hearings to rattle the cages of bureaucracy.

    Nowhere has her support been more generous than in New Hampshire.

    Warren has raised $139,000 there for Senator Jeanne Shaheen, more than for any other candidate, as the Massachusetts senator initiates her effort to become a national rainmaker for the Democratic Party.

    Shaheen is trying to fatten her war chest to intimidate Republican Scott Brown, the former US senator from Massachusetts, as he contemplates a challenge in New Hampshire that would make her race more competitive.


    Shaheen issued a statement welcoming Warren’s support, calling her “a great friend’’ and “a strong voice for middle-class families.’’

    There is no national ranking of senators’ fund-raising for other candidates, because such numbers tend to be kept unofficially by individual senators.

    But veteran political consultants say Warren has done quite well in her first year, enough to earn “player” status, especially given that many donors have yet to focus in on the 2014 contests.

    “There are very few freshman members . . . who can raise that kind of money in a relatively short period of time,” said Ron Kaufman, a Republican who has raised money for Mitt Romney and Brown.

    Warren said she is also willing to help get the vote out. She is planning a set of high-profile appearances in late March for Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, a liberal who campaigned for Warren in 2012 and who has worked closely with her in the Senate. Warren has raised $104,000 for Franken and is expected to raise more while she is in Minnesota.


    But candidates in the toughest races — including several in the South, where President Obama and the national Democratic party are less popular — may be more eager to get Warren’s money than her public support.

    “I would not take her below the ‘Smith & Wesson’ line,” said Dane Strother, a veteran Democratic consultant raised in Louisiana who has worked for candidates throughout the South. “She’s a rock star with the insiders, but if you’re standing in the Carolinas and Louisiana and Arkansas, you don’t necessarily need a Massachusetts liberal standing with you, because those folks find ‘Massachusetts liberal’ redundant.”

    An aggressive out-of-state schedule also carries some risk for Warren, if she appears too distracted by political activities to tend to her Massachusetts constituents.

    All senators face pressure from their political parties to raise money, particularly if they have received help from other politicians in their own campaigns.

    Pressure is especially strong on those who have proved effective in soliciting money online, on the phone, or in person, and Warren led all congressional candidates in fund-raising in the 2012 election.

    For Warren, the benefits of extending help to others go beyond maintaining power for her party. She can also build clout within the Senate and raise her standing if she decides to seek higher office, political consultants say.

    “The place runs on personal relationships, and stuff like this can’t hurt in the future when you’re scrambling to put together coalitions to pass whatever bill you’re trying to get done,” said Jim Manley, a former aide to the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, and the late Edward M. Kennedy, who now works for a lobbying and public relations firm.

    Warren has pledged that she will not run for president in 2016, but her fund-raising prowess has helped put her in third place in several Democratic primary polls.

    Despite Warren’s recent fund-raising achievements, she has a lot of ground to make up to reach the stratosphere of other current and former celebrity senators in her party who have held leadership positions or made presidential runs — including Reid, Kennedy, Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John F. Kerry.

    In the two years following his 2004 presidential run, Kerry raised $11 million for colleagues, using his e-mail list of 3 million supporters and making 85 trips to 24 states, his campaign office said at the time.

    Most of Warren’s money — $624,000 — has come through online fund-raising, which has become an increasingly vital tool for the Democratic Party as it capitalizes on small donations from grass-roots enthusiasts.

    Consultants said Warren has one of the most valuable e-mail lists in Congress, with hundreds of thousands of names on it.

    But politicians are often cautious in sending out too many e-mails to avoid bombarding their supporters and weakening future support. With a single e-mail, Warren can raise tens of thousands of dollars.

    Warren has also donated $180,000 directly to 21 candidates through her political action committee, which she established soon after taking office last year.

    She has held only a handful of fund-raising events for individual candidates so far, but cashes in whenever she does.

    In just four events held last year — in California, Illinois, and Massachusetts — Warren raised $300,000 for six candidates.

    An official with the senatorial committee said she has also attended larger events for the party in Washington, D.C., New York, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Boston, and Martha’s Vineyard.

    Noah Bierman can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @noahbierman.