By Andrew Miga, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren on Thursday launched an exploratory committee and a Web site for a possible challenge against GOP Sen. Scott Brown, a top Democratic target in 2012.

Warren will use the committee and the Web site to begin raising money and lining up volunteers. A Massachusetts Democrat familiar with Warren’s plans said the paperwork was filed Thursday for the exploratory committee. The Democrat requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

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The Harvard Law School professor is meeting with activists and party officials across the state and plans to decide after Labor Day whether she will run.

Top national Democrats desperate to take back the seat long held by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy have been urging Warren to run despite a crowded primary field.

A favorite of consumer groups and liberals, Warren got a boost from the pro-abortion rights group EMILY’s List, which raises money for female Democratic candidates.

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“The EMILY’s List community has been telling me loud and clear that they want Elizabeth Warren in the race to beat Scott Brown,” Stephanie Schriock, the group’s head said in a statement Thursday. “Today, they got a little bit closer to getting their wish.”

Supporters say Warren’s image as a crusader on behalf of consumers against well-heeled Wall Street and corporate interests and her national profile would make her a strong candidate, even though she’s never run for public office before.

Warren was chosen by President Barack Obama last year to set up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but congressional Republicans opposed her becoming the bureau’s director, and Obama in July decided not to pick her to head the new agency.

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(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)