Nov. 6, 2012 – 10:21 p.m.

113th Congress: Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. (Senate)

Elizabeth Warren, a tenured law professor at Harvard University, had never run for political office prior to the 2012 campaign. But to say she is new to Washington and its partisan politics would be a mistake.

In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, Warren, a long-time adviser to President Barack Obama on consumer issues, was appointed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada to chair the congressional oversight panel responsible for the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

“I went to Washington in the middle of the financial crisis to try to put some accountability into the bank bailout system,” Warren says. “While I was there I had the chance to work on another idea I had.”

That idea, maligned by Republicans and the banking industry, evolved into the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a watchdog organization for borrowers seeking mortgages, credit cards and other financial products. “The way I saw it, there was nobody in Washington who was really looking out for consumers. We needed just a fair game, just a level playing field here. It was a tough fight, but we got it,” she says.

Warren says she will continue to add to the role of government in corporate accountability. She will also support a jobs plan similar to Obama’s, one that focuses on more spending for infrastructure and education. “In the short run, we can put people back to work repairing roads and bridges, upgrading communications and making sure we have teachers in the classroom and firefighters in the fire station,” Warren says.

And she will push her colleagues to invest in renewable-energy technology, which she says is vital not only to protecting the environment, but also to the country’s health and national security.

While Warren would like to serve on the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, she also has her eye on the Judiciary Committee and its role in approving Supreme Court nominations.

Warren said she is “a big Teddy Roosevelt fan,” citing his work to rein in trusts, his record on conservation issues and his signing of the Food and Drug Act. “He fought hard to create a level playing field for working families,” she says.

Warren said she knew she would run for office when a recent graduate working two jobs and loaded with student debt said, “I’m not sure there’s a future out there for me. I’m looking for someone to fight for my future.”