Another key consideration is whether the Obama administration will name an interim director or a permanent one. Under the recently enacted financial reform legislation, the former does not require Senate confirmation and can serve up to six months.
The consumer protection post has become both a political hot potato in Washington and another flash point between Wall Street and the Obama administration.
Warren, who chairs the Congressional Oversight Panel overseeing the TARP program, is an outspoken consumer rights advocate, is feared or loathed by many in the financial services industry.
On Capitol Hill, she is not much more popular in Republican circles. As the House debated its version of the financial reform bill creating the new watchdog agency, one Republican crafted an amendment dictating the director's qualifications solely for the purpose of excluding Warren. It failed.
But Warren, a former Harvard University professor, has broad, and in some cases, strong, support among Democrats in Congress, including a key author of the financial reform bill, House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank of Massachusetts. Most Republicans, however, vehemently oppose her.
Warren's chief rival for the position is Michael S. Barr, the Treasury Department's assistant secretary for financial institutions, who has overseen the administration's massive foreclosure prevention program and also served as a liaison with Congress on the reform legislation.
Naming an interim director in the near future makes sense for both organizational and political reasons, according to the Congressional source. It allows work to begin on the sizable and complicated task of staffing an agency and writing regulations.
"It's also a practical political move," the source said. "It can calm your critics," while you vet your permanent candidate, especially if "the confirmation process is going to take six months."
"It's reasonable if you plan to appoint an interim," says Mark Calabria, who served as a senior Senate aide before joining the Cato Institute. "If they don't do anything between now and the election, then people will just speculate on who it will be."
Barr was confirmed for his current Treasury post, so that's an asset in making him interim director. Warren's Congressional oversight post did not require confirmation. (Eugene Kimmelman, a deputy assistant attorney general, and former VP of Consumers Union, a public interest group, is also being considered.)
The August timetable also makes sense for naming a permanent director, because there's limited time left for the Senate in the current Congress to debate and vote on a candidate, and Congressional Democrats seem anxious to move forward with the agency.
In addition a vote in a lame-duck Congress, particularly if the Democrats lose seats in both houses, could be difficult and dubious, say analysts, while having a consumer agency boss approved and on the job could actually win some votes, if not turn any individual race.
Though much has been made of Warren's qualifications for the job, the director post may come down to whether the Obama administration wants an insider or an outsider.