Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jack Conway is endorsing TARP bailout overseer Elizabeth Warren to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a new federal agency created by the recently approved financial reform law.
In a statement, Conway joins 17 sitting Senators on what appears to be the liberal side of a political battle. As ABC News' Political Punch points out, after "White House press secretary Robert Gibbs’ comment on the “professional left” this week, there is even more of a storm brewing as liberals, progressives, and labor unions push President Obama to appoint her to head the agency."
The move could serve to shore up support among Kentucky progressives. Conway has been taking some heat from Kentucky liberals for advocating conservative positions on issues such as extending the Bush tax cuts, opposing Cap and Trade and criticizing the federal government's role in immigration enforcement. Conway rolled out those conservative themes at a Kentucky Farm Bureau forum last month.
As Talking Points Memo's Evan McMorris-Santoro reports, Warren is opposed by Republicans who "have said she would use the agency to pursue a liberal vendetta against big business, and some Democrats have suggested it's all but impossible that she would be confirmed."
Meanwhile, the Atlantic's Joshua Green speculates that Conway endorsed Warren because Conway got a tip that Mr. Obama was going to nominate her, anyway:
If you're Jack Conway, running in a conservative state in a brutally tough year for Democrats, would you call on President Obama to nominate someone like Warren if there was a good chance she wasn't going to get the job? I tend to think not. On the other hand, if you knew he was going to choose her--let's say you'd gotten a head's up from someone at the White House--it would certainly be advantageous to endorse her beforehand, since Kentuckians couldn't help but be impressed by your influence with the White House when, a few days later, the announcement was made.
Progressive Change Campaign Committee chair Adam Green told TPMDC that the fight to get Warren at the head of the CFPB is one worth having, and he praised Conway for signing on.
"Jack Conway deserves a lot of credit for standing up for consumers and being counted on this important issue," Green said. "From north to south, east to west, those who care about protecting consumers and holding Wall Street accountable agree that Elizabeth Warren is ideal for this new position -- and it's time for the White House to appoint her."
Conway's endorsement, which includes a slam on GOP opponent Rand Paul, is posted on the Progressive Change Campaign Committee's website:
“Kentuckians deserve a strong nominee to fight for consumer protections in Washington.
Elizabeth Warren has gained invaluable expertise protecting taxpayers as chair of the
Congressional Oversight Panel and continues to stand up to Wall Street on behalf of
consumers. Consumer protection has been one of my top priorities as Attorney General of
Kentucky. My office saved Kentucky families over $100 million from proposed utility rate
increases and we’ve taken on big oil companies for gas price gouging.
“Rand Paul wants to get rid of regulations. He opposes creating the financial regulatory agency;
dismisses the need for Wall Street reform; and stands with big corporations rather than
Kentucky’s working families. Rand Paul would have let Wall Street continue its risky gamble
with our pensions and savings, which plunged our country into an economic recession and
jeopardized our future economic security.
“We need a strong Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and we need Elizabeth Warren
looking out for consumers like us.”