The Washington Times - May 9, 2011, 03:20PM

The field of Democrats angling to challenge Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown in the 2012 election got a little more crowded today, after Newton Mayor Setti Warren announced his intent to seek his party’s nomination.

“Today I’m announcing my candidacy for the United States Senate,” Mr. Warren said in the jam-packed video announcement. “I believe Scott Brown is an honorable man, but he has not been the independent voice in the Senate that so many expected him to be. He has voted 87 percent of the time with his national Republican leaders.”

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While Democrats insist that Mr. Brown is vulnerable in next year’s election, the state party has struggled to recruit a major candidate willing to take him on and try to take back the seat held for decades by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.

So far, the Kennedy clan has taken a pass — Vicki Kennedy, the senator’s widow, is not interested, and former Rep. Joe Kennedy has suggested that he won’t be tossing his hat into the ring. The state’s top Democrat, Gov. Deval Patrick, also appears unwilling to enter the race.

Earlier this year, Thomas M. Menino, the straight-talking, five-term Democratic mayor of Boston, handicapped his party’s chances of ousting Brown in the election during an interview with the Boston Herald, saying, “There’s nobody that can beat him.”

The Democratic field includes Alan Khazei, co-founder of a major local youth program, Robert Massie, a former candidate for lieutenant governor, and attorney Marisa DeFranco.

In the ad, Mr. Warren says that, “over the course of coming weeks and months I hope to meet many of you in person or here online where we can talk about the many challenges that face our state and our country.”

He gives a rundown of his family life. His father grew up on the “most dangerous block in Harlem,” served in the Korean War and then went to college in North Carolina with his mother where they “risked their lives desegregating lunch counters and movie theaters.” Then they landed in Massachusetts, where Mr. Warren says, he was raised in a household where a sense of shared responsibility was instilled in him, after caring for his late sister, who died at the age of 26 from severe asthma.

Following Sept. 11, he enlisted in the Navy and “served a tour in Iraq as an intelligence specialist.”

“As a Democrat, I believe in the core values of creating opportunity for all Americans and protecting our most vulnerable,” he says, adding that “we need to cut government spending, but we cannot let a crisis borne of fiscal mismanagement destroy all that we stand for as Americans.”