Democratic leaders in the US Senate are speaking with their money in the Massachusetts primary, stating clearly that they prefer consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren to be the party’s candidate against Republican Senator Scott Brown next year.
The Senate’s top two Democrats, majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada and majority whip Dick Durbin of Illinois, have each donated $5,000 to Warren’s campaign through the leadership political action committees they control, according to campaign filings. Other notable Democratic senators also have fallen in line behind Warren.
Warren’s 1,200-page finance report, formally released this week, provides the first details about who is giving to the first-time candidate and how she is spending the money.
The figures reveal a candidate who clearly has national appeal, but also could provide fodder to those painting Warren as someone propped up by forces outside Massachusetts.
Nearly 70 percent of the $3.14 million the Harvard Law professor raised in the last quarter came from out of state, according to figures provided by the campaign.
Warren says she has received money from 56,131 donors — 11,733 of whom are from Massachusetts.
She raised $974,000 from Massachusetts residents, about 31 percent of her total, the campaign said.
With significant out-of-state support, “this is not the typical profile one would see from a challenger at this stage of the race,’’ said Anthony Corrado, a Colby College professor who studies campaign finance. Warren’s vast number of donors “also shows that high-profile candidates are capable even this far out from an election of attracting national support, especially online.’’
This support was underscored again last night, when she was scheduled to attend a fund-raiser in New York, hosted by — among others — New York’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, and liberal billionaire George Soros, according to a report by Politico.
Warren hailed her more than 11,000 Bay State donors as a sign that her campaign “is gaining strong support here at home,’’ her campaign said in a statement.
Brown raised $1.58 million in the July, August, and September quarter, bringing his campaign fund to $10.5 million, according to filings. His campaign says it received 7,135 donations last quarter, most of which — 5,498 — were from Massachusetts.
The campaign would not supply a dollar breakdown for how much of its money was raised in-state. Those details will eventually become available through the Federal Election Commission.
About $191,000 of Brown’s money last quarter came from PACs, which is consistent with his fund-raising history: PACs have provided about 13 percent of Brown’s war chest, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan watchdog.
Brown received money from a variety of political committees representing accountants, lawyers and major law firms, large corporations, such as General Electric and Ford, and financial industry titans, such as JPMorgan Chase, John Hancock Financial Services, and the global consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. Like Warren, Brown received money from leadership PACs run by sitting senators, including Republicans Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Rob Portman of Ohio and Jon Kyl of Arizona, the Senate’s minority whip.
Warren’s campaign says it has no formal policy against taking PAC money, though Warren has not received much of it: the $32,649 she reported from PACs represent about 1 percent of her fund-raising haul.
While much attention has been focused on a Warren-Brown showdown, the political newcomer’s first hurdle is the Democratic primary, where Warren could face four other declared candidates: state Representative Thomas P. Conroy of Wayland; Marisa DeFranco, a North Shore attorney; Alan Khazei, who ran for the seat in the 2010 special election; Herb Robinson, a Newton software engineer; and a newcomer, James C. King, a Dover lawyer.
In addition to the top Senate leaders, Warren received money from PACs controlled by Senators Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Tom Harkin of Iowa, and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. Russ Feingold, the former Wisconsin senator who is a hero of many political liberals, donated $5,649 to Warren through his PAC.
Though just a fraction of the total sum she collected, these donations provide a clear signal that national party leaders are not waiting until next September’s primary to advance Warren as the candidate against Brown. Democratic leaders believe the Massachusetts contest represents their best chance to take a Republican-held Senate seat next year.
“As far as the national party leaders are concerned, Elizabeth Warren is already the Democratic nominee,’’ said Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia political scientist who studies Senate races. “They don’t see any of the other candidates as competitive with Scott Brown.’’
The Democratic Senate caucus, which has a 53-47 advantage in the Senate, is defending 23 seats in 2012, and as many as 10 of those races pose a serious threat of a loss, said Sabato. Among Republican-held seats, only two races, in Nevada and Massachusetts, currently appear competitive.
National Democrats are counting on Warren to take the Massachusetts seat, to cushion possible losses elsewhere and help the party maintain control of the Senate.
Public opinion polls show Warren and Brown running roughly even, more than a year before Election Day.
Warren also received $5,000 from Kids PAC, a children’s-issue organization, and $5,000 from the United Steel Workers Political Action Fund, an influential organization that contributed more than $1 million to Democratic candidates in the last election cycle.
Her campaign filings reveal she paid $15,000 to DR & Associates, the political consulting company of Doug Rubin, a longtime adviser to Governor Deval Patrick.
She also hired Grunwald Communications, the firm of former Bill and Hillary Clinton adviser Mandy Grunwald, and paid $8,275 to the former Hillary Clinton presidential campaign for the use of campaign lists.
Warren’s closest Democratic competitor in the fund-raising race, Khazei, said the party leadership donations confirm Warren’s status as the candidate of Washington insiders.
“Elizabeth Warren has already won the D.C. primary,’’ said Khazei spokesman Scott Ferson. “Alan is convinced this campaign will be won with ideas, not Washington money.’’
Warren is well-known by Democratic leaders in Congress, having worked with them while in Washington as President Obama’s choice to set up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was established by financial reform legislation in 2010.
Khazei, who raised about $365,000 in the last quarter and lags far behind Warren with $750,000 on hand, has sworn off PAC money. He has challenged Warren to do the same.
Mark Arsenault can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.