The victory of Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts marks the arrival in the Senate of a major new figure in American politics.

To be effective, she will have to lay low for a few years, as Hillary Clinton and Al Franken did. We’ll see if she has the patience and good sense to do so. But if she does, she will have a long and illustrious career.

Her strengths -- raising and championing complex but critical issues -- are a perfect match for the institution. I once saw her get a standing ovation for a subtle and informative speech about banking. I can’t think of anyone else who could do that.

Warren’s election scares a lot of business people. It shouldn’t. I’ve known her for years and can say with certitude that she is pro-business and has many friends in the business world. What she opposes are businesses -- the credit-card industry comes to mind -- with a history of gouging their customers. To those, she will show no mercy. But she will also work hard to fashion pro-growth policies that work broadly, not just for specific interests.

She will defy the expectations of a lot of people who formed a mistaken impression of her in recent years.

(Jonathan Alter is a columnist for Bloomberg View. Follow him on Twitter.)

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