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Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard law professor and fiery consumer advocate, announced Wednesday morning that she will run for Senate in Massachusetts against Republican Scott Brown.

The announcement ends months of speculation about Warren’s next move. In a video on her web site, Warren says her reason for running is simple: “Middle-class families have been chipped at, hacked at, squeezed and hammered for a generation now, and I don’t think Washington gets it,” she says. “Washington is rigged for big corporations that hire armies of lobbyists.”

That’s a taste of the direct talk that made Warren such a lightning rod for controversy in Washington and on Wall Street. Warren first created the idea of a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and President Obama tapped her to create the agency. But to avoid a major fight with Republicans and financial industry leaders, Obama skipped over Warren when he nominated Richard Cordray, the bureau’s enforcement chief, to become the agency’s first permanent director.

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Within minutes of Obama’s announcement, rumors started swirling about whether Warren would return to Massachusetts and run for senate. Her opponent, Scott Brown, is known as an able campaigner whose win in a special election in 2009 upended 57 years of Democratic control of the seat.

At first Warren demurred, saying she needed to return to Massachusetts first and spend time with her family. She formed an exploratory committee to begin raising money and testing political support for a Senate run in August. She joins a crowded primary field of six other Democratic candidates, including Setti Warren, the mayor of Newton, and Alan Khazei, founder of the City Year volunteer program.

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In her campaign, Warren is likely to draw heavily on her own personal history. The daughter of a store manager and janitor, she grew up “on the ragged edge of the middle class,” she says in her announcement video. After attending public schools, she became a bankruptcy expert at Harvard Law School, where her criticism of corporate interests made her a favorite among Democratic Party activists.

That experience will play a major part in her campaign fundraising efforts, as her announcement video made clear.

“I’ve fought all my life for working families, and I’ve stood up to some pretty powerful interests,” Warren says in her announcement video. “Those interests are going to line up against this campaign, and that’s why I need you.”

[Related Article: Mulling Senate Run, Warren Keeps Pressure on Consumer Bureau]

Image: Congressional Oversight Panel, via Wikipedia

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