Support for Elizabeth Warren Over Hillary Clinton Reveals Progressive Family Feud

PHOTO: Elizabeth Warren, left, is pictured on Sept. 18, 2014 in Washington, D.C. Hillary Clinton, right, is pictured on Dec. 3, 2014 in Washington, D.C. Chip Somodevilla, Jim Watson/Getty Images
Elizabeth Warren, left, is pictured on Sept. 18, 2014 in Washington, D.C. Hillary Clinton, right, is pictured on Dec. 3, 2014 in Washington, D.C.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren may be saying no to 2016, but that is not stopping her supporters and it’s revealing a possible family feud in progressive politics.

Members of the liberal group MoveOn have voted to draft the Massachusetts senator with 81.3 percent of those who voted casting the ballot in support of a draft effort. MoveOn — joined by Democracy or America — said it will launch their “Run Warren Run” draft effort, which includes spending $1 million in the first phase of the launch and setting up offices in Iowa and New Hampshire as well as assembling a "national volunteer army" on behalf of Warren. They are planning on holding their first event in Iowa next week.

Democracy for America’s support shows a schism within the group. They released a statement after MoveOn’s vote reiterating they would help their fellow liberals in the draft Warren effort, but Howard Dean — who started the group — wrote an op-ed today stressing his support for Hillary Clinton. Neither Clinton nor Warren have said they are running for the Democratic presidential nomination. Warren has repeatedly said she’s not running and Clinton has said she’s still deciding.

"Hillary Clinton is by far the most qualified person in the United States to serve as president. If she runs, I will support her,” Dean, a former Vermont governor and presidential candidate, wrote in Politico. “We need a mature, seasoned, thoughtful leader at a time when maturity and thoughtfulness are increasingly rare commodities in Washington, D.C. If I have the opportunity, I will cast my vote for Hillary Clinton for president.”

Dean founded DFA and according to the group still serves in a strategic advisory role. He originally left the DFA to lead the Democratic National Committee in 2005 and then Dean’s brother Jim took over DFA and still serves as chairman of the group.

Charles Chamberlain, executive director of Democracy for America, said in a statement they “respect” Dean’s “early support” and believe Clinton “would make a fantastic president and, should she win the nomination, DFA members will work non-stop to help her make history by becoming our nation's first woman president.” But they are still endorsing Warren.

Chamberlain cited their supporters backing of Warren in a recent member survey and added, “We've said from the very beginning of our discussions of 2016 that one of DFA's top priorities will be ensuring that the battle for the Democratic nomination is a contest, not a coronation. Our members clearly agree with that priority…and aren't ready to follow the governor's lead in making an early endorsement of Clinton."

Chamberlain said later today they will ask members to ratify their decision to join the draft Warren effort.

“Senator Warren's record of standing up to Wall Street and the big banks in the fight against income inequality is inspiring Americans and progressive activists nationwide,” Chamberlain said.

MoveOn’s executive director of political action said in a statement after their vote that their members have “spoken clearly” and beginning today they are “throwing our full weight behind this Run Warren Run campaign to show Senator Warren she has the support of millions of Americans across the country.”

It’s their first presidential draft campaign in their 16 year history and said their “team-based organizing strategy” is “inspired” by President Obama's successful "grassroots campaigns." They’ve already launched a “Run Warren Run” website and video portraying Warren as a fighter for the middle class.

When MoveOn announced their vote Tuesday and DFA expressed support for the effort, Warren’s press secretary Lacey Rose said, "As Senator Warren has said many times, she is not running for president." Warren has said the same repeatedly herself, but she’s always been careful to phrase it in the present tense.