Las Vegas (CNN) - Elizabeth Warren is a hero at Netroots Nation, a gathering of progressive bloggers and activists meeting this week in Las Vegas.
Warren is a leading candidate for director of the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). And many of the Netroots advocates here vow to use their fundraising and online muscle to press President Obama and Democrats in Congress to make that happen.
Warren, a Harvard professor and chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), is an outspoken consumer advocate who originally proposed the idea for such a bureau. The financial reform legislation signed by President Obama this week made the CFPB a reality. And in an interview with ABC News on Thursday, the President indicated that Warren is among those he's considering as the Bureau's director.
But Warren has critics in the business community, and both Obama and a key Democratic leader in Congress have made it clear she is no shoo-in for the post.
Markos Moulitsas, founder of the liberal DailyKos blog tells CNN, "Clearly progressives are not happy with financial regulation passed into law. One of the few provisions that could have teeth is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and it's clear there are forces trying to insert someone at the head who will do everything in their power to defang it." He says of Democratic leaders in Washington "if they want to have any credibility with progressives it's imperative they have someone who will use the powers of the [Consumer Financial Protection] Bureau to fulfill its mission. Elizabeth Warren is one of the few people we trust to do that."
Over the last two years, Warren has been a loud critic of the financial industry and the big banks, blasting what she calls their "tricks and traps" in obscuring the details of financial products.
Whoever gets the job will have enormous power shaping the future path of the agency and what it will regulate. That's why Republicans who say they'd like to see a more "balanced" candidate are warning against "naming an activist to this position," as Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee has said.
But already the Progressive Change Campaign Committee has launched an online petition and is helping to organize a letter among members of Congress asking President Obama to select Warren for the post. According to PCCC co-founder Adam Green they have 170,000 signatures on the petition and 64 members have signed the Congressional letter to the President.
Liberal advocacy organization Moveon.org is taking a different approach – going after a fellow Democrat. They're targeting Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd for a comment he made casting doubt on Warren's appointment. Dodd told National Public Radio: "Elizabeth can be a terrific nominee but the question is, is she confirmable? And there is a serious question about that." To ramp up the pressure on Dodd, Moveon.org has sent a letter to its members asking them to call Dodd's office. And they've launched online ads criticizing the retiring Senator.
Moveon.org's Ilyse Hogue believes targeting Dodd sends a message to other Democrats: oppose Warren and incur the wrath of the progressive online community. Hogue says of Democratic leaders, "They're trotting Chris Dodd out there, who's impenetrable because he's retiring, to do the dirty work of other Democrats who would be vulnerable on this." She says the attack on Dodd is strategic: "We are hitting Dodd hard right now because we don't want any other Democrats to think it's OK to follow his lead and slam Elizabeth Warren when she is the choice of the people to protect us against Wall Street." And she adds, "If we don't, and we go without a fight, every other Democrat thinks it's OK" to oppose Warren.
For these activists, the Warren question is a test of President Obama's commitment to taking on special interests, as he pledged to do during the campaign.
"Either he stands with the banks or with the people," says Moulitsas. "And he puts someone in there who will hold Wall Street accountable."
For her part, Elizabeth Warren will be speaking at Netroots Nation on Saturday.