MEDFORD, Mass. — Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley officially launched her campaign for governor Monday, saying she had learned from the errors made during her stunning loss to Republican Scott Brown in a special election for the U.S. Senate.
Coakley greeted voters at a diner in her hometown of Medford, the first stop on a three-day campaign tour around the state.
She joins what is already a crowded Democratic field a full year before the state primary. Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick is not seeking a third term.
Coakley’s loss in the 2010 race to succeed the late Sen. Edward Kennedy stunned Democrats while energizing Republicans nationwide, and it clouded her own political future.
“I’ve acknowledged that we made mistakes on that campaign trail and I’ve learned from that,” she said Monday.
After the high-profile setback, Coakley said she got right back to work in the attorney general’s office. She was easily re-elected to a second term later in 2010.
As governor, the 60-year-old Coakley said she would work to rebuild the state’s economy and modernize the education system, including a push for a longer school day.
The other Democrats already in the race include state Treasurer Steven Grossman, Newton pediatrician and former Obama administration health care official Don Berwick, former federal and state homeland security official Juliette Kayyem and former Wellesley selectman Joseph Avellone. State Sen. Dan Wolf’s candidacy is on hold pending a final determination by the Ethics Commission on whether his ownership interest in Cape Air would represent a conflict of interest.
“It’s going to be a long, hard primary and I welcome that,” Coakley said.
The Democratic primary is scheduled for September 2014, and the election in November 2014.
Charles Baker, the 2010 Republican gubernatorial nominee, recently launched a second bid for the job. Brown has ruled out a run for governor.
Coakley’s campaign account reported a balance of just under $275,000 in its most recent filing with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance.
Grossman, a former Democratic National Committee chair, was the early leader in the money race with about $628,000 in his campaign account.
Grossman issued a statement that did not mention Coakley by name but said he was “the only Democratic candidate who offers a lifetime of proven leadership in strengthening our economy. ”
Echoing criticism of the attorney general’s failed U.S. Senate campaign, a Republican official accused Coakley on Monday of leaning too much on pollsters and consultants but not connecting with voters.
“With Coakley repeating the same disastrous mistakes that doomed her last run for higher office, now Massachusetts Democrats have yet another bad option,” GOP state chair Kirsten Hughes said in a statement.
Coakley’s decision opens up yet another statewide office in the 2014 election and is certain to send more political dominoes tumbling.
Potential candidates for attorney general could include several of the state’s district attorneys. Republican state Rep. Daniel Winslow, a one-time judge and legal counsel to former Gov. Mitt Romney, promised an announcement about his political plans Monday.
Since 1958, five former Massachusetts attorneys general have sought the governor’s office. None of the five – George Fingold, Edward McCormack Jr., Francis Bellotti, Scott Harshbarger and Tom Reilly – were successful. Fingold died before Election Day.
Associated Press writer Bob Salsberg in Boston contributed to this report.