The presidential race is heating up in Virginia as Democratic candidates descend on the state to woo voters ahead of Super Tuesday on Mar. 3, when Virginia and 14 other jurisdictions around the U.S. will host primaries to help determine the party’s nominee.
Eight contenders remain after a trio of dropouts earlier this month in the wake of the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary, though Virginia voters will see several people listed on their ballot that have suspended their campaigns since qualifying for inclusion.
The Fairfax County Times series on the candidates seeking the nomination at the Democratic National Convention in July to challenge President Donald Trump concludes this week with a look at Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is campaigning to become America’s first female president.
The first woman ever elected to represent Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate, Warren gave a nod to the potentially historic nature of her candidacy when she formally launched her presidential campaign at Everett Mill in Lawrence, Mass., on Feb. 9, 2019.
The mill holds symbolic significance as the site of a 1912 labor strike started by working women seeking to improve their wages, overtime, and other benefits, according to The New York Times.
In addition to tying her work to a legacy of progressive activism by women, Warren’s decision to announce her candidacy for the 2020 presidential race at Everett Mill indicated that economic equity and labor issues would be priorities for her campaign.
Warren’s Virginia state campaign director Amy Friedman points to her role in helping create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau following the 2008 economic crash as evidence of the senator’s commitment to advocating for middle-class citizens and holding financial companies accountable.
Established in July 2010 when then-President Barack Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act into law, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau enforces federal laws against companies and practices deemed predatory, investigates consumer complaints, combats discrimination in the industry, monitors financial markets for risks, and supports financial education.
While Sen. Christopher Dodd and Rep. Barney Frank, who respectively represented Connecticut and Massachusetts at the time, sponsored the legislation that created the CFPB, Warren has often been credited with conceiving the idea for the bureau and becoming its most vocal champion.
She argued that the U.S. needs an agency to protect consumers and regulate financial products and services, including banks, mortgage lenders, and insurance companies, as early as 2007 when she was still a Harvard Law professor and wrote an article on the subject for the liberal journal Democracy.
“For decades, America has been working better and better for a thin slice at the top, while the middle class gets hollowed out,” Friedman said. “…Elizabeth knows how to win fights for working people. She will do the same as president.”
Currently a resident of Cambridge, Mass., Warren was born in Oklahoma City, Okla., to a father who sold fencing and carpeting, later becoming a building maintenance worker, and a mother who stayed home to take care of her and her three older brothers.
When she was 12, Warren’s father was out of work for a while after experiencing a heart attack, and her family was on the brink of losing their house until her mother landed a minimum-wage job answering phones at Sears, according to her campaign biography.
Though she aspired to become a teacher, Warren’s family lacked the money to send her to college, and despite earning a debate scholarship, she dropped out to marry her high school sweetheart when she was 19.
Warren divorced James Robert Warren in 1978. She has been married to her current husband, Bruce Mann, for 39 years.
Living in Texas at the time, Warren soon returned to school, working a part-time waitressing job while commuting to the University of Houston, where she earned an undergraduate degree that gave her the ability to teach elementary school students in special education.
Warren gave birth to her first child, Amelia, when she was 22, and when her daughter turned 2, she enrolled in the Rutgers University School of Law. She graduated with a law degree in 1976.
After practicing law for a period, Warren returned to teaching and has since worked as a law professor for more than 30 years at Rutgers, the University of Houston, the University of Texas in Austin, the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard University, where she taught at the law school from 1993 to 2013.
Warren’s foray into politics began in 2008 when then-Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid appointed her to chair the congressional oversight panel created to supervise the Troubled Asset Relief Program, an initiative authorized by Congress under the Bush administration to stabilize the U.S. financial system after the Great Recession.
Though she was registered as a Republican until 1996, when she switched parties, Warren has emerged as a member of the more progressive faction of the Democratic Party establishment during her tenure in Congress and on the campaign trail.
In addition to championing an “ultra-millionaire” tax that would apply to households with a net worth of $50 million or more, Warren has proposed a real corporate profits tax that would impose a 7 percent tax on every dollar of profit that a company makes over $100 million in an effort to negate tax loopholes and exemptions that currently result in some major companies like Amazon paying no federal corporate income taxes despite reporting billions of dollars in profits.
Warren also supports creating a Medicare-for-All public healthcare system and has pledged to introduce it as a free option for children under the age of 18 and families making 200 percent of the federal poverty level or below within her first 100 days in office before transitioning to free coverage under the plan for everyone.
Warren is a cosponsor of the Medicare for All Act of 2019 introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), one of her rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Warren’s campaign has gotten off to a slower-than-anticipated start with the Feb. 3 Iowa caucus and Feb. 11 New Hampshire primary putting her in third with eight delegates, trailing the 21 delegates awarded so far to Sanders and 22 to former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Warren came in at 5 percent in a Feb. 18 Monmouth University poll of Virginia voters likely to participate in the Democratic primary, behind former Vice President Joe Biden (18 percent), Buttigieg (11 percent), and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar (9 percent). Sanders and former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg tied for the lead at 22 percent.
At the same time, the poll also found that only 1 in 4 likely Virginia Democratic primary voters feel firmly committed to their candidate choice.
Like her opponents, Warren has been paying more attention to Virginia as Super Tuesday nears with a particular emphasis on the Northern Virginia suburbs. Her state campaign has set up its office in Falls Church, and she held a town hall in Arlington on Feb. 13.
On Feb. 18, Warren’s campaign announced endorsements from Virginia state delegates Kathy Tran (D-42nd), Josh Cole (D-28th), and Sally Hudson (D-57th).
“Virginia has shown the country that women can lead a movement, win tough elections, and deliver results,” Tran, whose district is in Fairfax County, said. “Senator Elizabeth Warren inspires hope with her bold vision for our country and plans to fight for a brighter future for all of us.”