3:00 pm Nov. 21, 2011
This weekend, The New York Times ran two big stories on the strong feelings being provoked by Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren.
The first was a long profile in the Sunday magazine describing the liberal love she's engendered (headlined "Heaven Is a Place Called Elizabeth Warren"); the second was a front-page story on Saturday that detailed Wall Street's desire to see Warren defeated.
To support that thesis, the latter included a handy graphic showing that her opponent, the incumbent Republican Scott Brown, has raised more than half a million dollars from the finance industry this year, ranking him second among Senate candidates who are up for re-election in 2012.
The number-one recipient, who has collected nearly twice as much as Brown from Wall Street, happens to be Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who is much closer to Warren in ideological terms than she is to Brown.
The numbers aren't even very close. Gillibrand has raised $937,400 from the securities and investment sector, to Brown's $519,278, with Utah Senator Orrin Hatch a distant third at $259,671, according to Open Secrets.
By virtue of being a senator from New York, Gillibrand has had the advantage of representing a big chunk of the industry. But her success raising money from them is also testament to the fact that she's been able to cast herself as a liberal champion in the Senate without alienating an important constituency of contributors (as the Times suggests Warren already has).
In doing so, she's followed the model of her mentor, New York's senior senator Charles Schumer.
Schumer hasn't bothered raising much in the current cycle—he's not up again until 2016, after winning handily last year—but he led all Senate candidates in the two years before his re-election. Schumer raised $2.6 million from the securities and investment sector in 2009 and 2010 alone, double the amount of nearly ever other Senate candidate, including Majority Leader Harry Reid, who raised just over $1 million. The only candidates who raised even half as much as Schumer, in fact, were Illinois Senator Mark Kirk with $1.5 million, and Gillibrand, who was running in a special election, with $1.4 million.
Gillibrand's would-be challengers are hoping it's a potential line of attack, although her only declared opponent, Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos, and her most threatening undeclared opponent, Harry Wilson, both made money in the industry, which would seem to undercut the potency of such a criticism.
Warren stands to benefit from the fundraising success of both of New York's senators, and their long list of supporters in the industry.
According to Open Secrets, Warren had raised just over $40,000 from the securities and investment sector, though that number represents only the first six weeks of Warren's campaign, before she had hosted any fundraising events in New York, like the one on October 19, when she wowed a number of local donors.
Schumer told me he talks to Warren "all the time." And last month, when I asked Gillibrand how she planned to help Warren's campaign for Senate, she said, "I've given her my encouragement, and I've given her my support. And I'm going to work with her in meeting folks in New York."