Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said Thursday he hopes Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) runs for president, becoming one of the first lawmakers to endorse the effort to push her into the campaign.

“I would love to see Elizabeth Warren in this race,” Ellison said on a conference call with members of the liberal group Democracy for America (DFA).

“I think it would be fantastic. I think that it would help the quality of the debate, and she may win, but even if she doesn’t, I think she’ll make Hillary Clinton a better candidate,” he added.

{mosads}Ellison pointed to the advantages of having a competitive primary. A Monmouth University poll earlier this week found that 48 percent of Democrats want a contested primary, compared to 43 percent who want to line up behind Clinton early.

“I don’t think it would be helpful or healthy for our Democratic candidate to not have to go through the sharpening process of a primary, where she could sort of just walk into the general without having committed to some real, real important economic populism,” said Ellison.

DFA has joined an effort begun by another liberal group, MoveOn, called “Run, Warren, Run” to draft the Massachusetts senator. The two groups have pledged a combined $1.25 million to the effort, and an online petition has gained more than 100,000 signatures. The effort held its kick-off event in Des Moines, Iowa, on Wednesday.

“I’m supportive of what you’re doing. I’m supportive of what MoveOn is doing, and I think Elizabeth Warren is one of the great, bright lights of our time,” Ellison said. 

Many lawmakers have already lined up behind Clinton. A survey by The Hill in January found that 60 members were already prepared to endorse Clinton if she ran.

Another Minnesota progressive, Sen. Al Franken (D), endorsed Clinton earlier this week. He said he didn’t believe Warren is going to run. 

“I think that I’m ready for Hillary,” he said. “I mean, I think that we’ve not had someone this experienced, this tough, and she’s very, very impressive. People have asked me about Elizabeth Warren. She is great, but she’s not running. She says she’s not running. So I don’t — I think Hillary would be great.”

Warren repeatedly insists that she is not running for president, though, she always phrases her denial in the present tense, which some take as a sign that she is not fully closing the door.

Tags Elizabeth Warren Hillary Clinton Keith Ellison

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