As I mentioned the other day, Marisa DeFranco is challenging Elizabeth Warren in the Massachusetts Democratic Senate primary.  In light of Warren’s three-week long Cherokee disaster, I reached out to DeFranco to get her take on the controversy and the primary race.

While several other high profile candidates dropped out in the face of Warren’s national momentum gained after her “factory owner” speech, DeFranco has soldiered on.  DeFranco expressed surprise that the other candidates ceded the race to Warren so early on, saying her reaction was:

“Hold on a minute, we don’t know anything about her as a candidate … we only know this one aspect of her career … We need to have candidates who are vetted, who go through the process.”

DeFranco called it

“mesmerizingly incomprehensible that everyone wanted to jump on the bandwagon before vetting the candidate and the issues”

DeFranco recently filed the necessary 10,000 signatures, but still needs to get 15% of the delegate vote at the June 2 nominating convention to move on to the September 6 primary.

As to Warren’s handling of the Cherokee issue, DeFranco stated:

“We need a Democratic nominee who has a clear and consistent response when controversies come up. The campaign was slow in response, and didn’t have a consistent response.”

On the issue of whether Warren knowingly misrepresented her background, DeFranco stated:

“I’m not going to go into her mind and what goes on there.  All I can speak to is what everyone else sees.”

“The question also is with Harvard.  If Harvard were better at having a diverse professorship, it would not have to put someone who appears as white as I am out there as minority.”

“Let’s assume the facts in evidence, that she’s 1/32 [Cherokee], that’s not the problem.  The problem is how she responded.”

“Even if she is 1/32 [Cherokee], diversity is about people being discriminated against based on what we see.  You can’t say someone is a diversity hire if everyone in the general public would not identify the person that way.”

As to whether Warren should apologize to the Cherokee Nation, as Cherokee genealogist Twila Barnes, demanded, DeFranco was not willing to take a position:

“That’s the Warren campaign’s mess to deal with.”

DeFranco did say, without taking a position as to whether Warren engaged in any wrongdoing, that it’s important to own up to one’s problems from the past:

“Stand proud for your history and defend yourself …. If there is something that should have gone the other way in the past, you own up to it.”

DeFranco is not taking a campaign position on whether Warren should authorize Harvard and prior employers to release records, “it’s not my call as to whether she should release those records, that’s the voters call … ”

DeFranco is not intimidated by Warren’s war chest:

“If you have all the money in the world but can’t respond to a crisis, it doesn’t do you any good.”

DeFranco says that fundraising has picked up lately, although she’s not sure if it is due to the publicity regarding her petition filing or the Cherokee controversy, and that she’s gaining support from rank and file Democrats.

The Warren campaign is working to eliminate the need for a primary by depriving DeFranco of a 15% vote at the nominating convention, but DeFranco’s response is:

“You should give voters a choice.  10,000 voters said my name should be on the ballot.”