Politico assesses the emerging peer group of Rhode Island’s junior senator:
The Senate is about to become a liberal lion’s den.
There’s a new gang of senators who ran their campaigns as unabashed progressives and won. Several of them will replace more moderate predecessors, led by Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a hero of the left who reclaimed the seat of the original liberal lion: Sen. Ted Kennedy.
Warren, Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) join newly reelected Democratic Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island to strengthen a once-dwindling group of die-hard liberals.
Howard Dean might say these are the folks who belong to “the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.” They are pro-gay marriage, pro-union, favor tax increases on the wealthy and support Obamacare. In some ways, they are populist throwbacks — in the spirit of Paul Wellstone or Hubert Humphrey — who don’t flinch from explaining the positive role that government can play in people’s lives.
As Politico notes, the question is, do these liberals emerge as hard-liners who won’t deal with their conservative counterparts, or deal-makers in the style of Ted Kennedy?