Martha Coakley Enters Gubernatorial Race

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, center, greets patrons at Morin's Diner in Attleboro Monday, as she officially launched her campaign for governor. (Steven Senne/AP)

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, center, greets patrons at Morin’s Diner in Attleboro Monday, as she officially launched her campaign for governor. (Steven Senne/AP)

MEDFORD, Mass. — Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley says she will make longer school days her priority if she is elected governor.

The Democrat announced that she is running in a Web video released Monday morning.

“You know, a lot of folks say that politics is tough, and it can be,” Coakley says in the video to images of her reading the paper, then talking to voters. “I know what it’s like to lose a race. I know how hard that is.”

She’s referring to her loss to Republican Scott Brown in the 2010 special U.S. Senate election.

Coakley was criticized for not campaigning hard enough in that race. To counter that impression, Monday she began a tour of Massachusetts, starting in her hometown, Medford.

All of Coakley’s political experience is in law enforcement, since 2007 as attorney general, and before that in the office of the Middlesex County district attorney. It’s the kind of résumé Massachusetts voters have consistently rejected when they’ve elected governors: Attorneys general have a hard time getting promoted to governor. But Coakley argued Monday that her career has taught her valuable lessons that she can use beyond enforcing the law.

“I wanted to prevent crime, and I started to see how when kids had too much time after school, when kids had too much time in the summer, when kids dropped out of school, or were tardy because of learning disabilities, or not getting the right program, they were more likely to get into trouble,” Coakley told reporters.

Coakley cited her own experience becoming one of the first class of women admitted to Williams College as an example of how education can transform a life.

“I was able to grow up in North Adams, Massachusetts, go to high school, go to a great college, get a great education, and go to law school,” Coakley said. “My parents believed in education. I know how important that was.”

Unlike Charles Baker, the Republican who entered the race earlier in September, Coakley is not coming to the defense of one of her potential Democratic opponents. State Sen. Dan Wolf owns 23 percent of Cape Air, which flies into Logan Airport. He is trying to persuade the State Ethics Commission to carve out an exception to a law prohibiting people who own companies that have contracts with the state from holding state office. When he launched his race, Baker was sympathetic to Wolf’s plight. Monday, Coakley was more cautious.

“We need the best talent that we have running for government,” she said. “I think we should be able to have folks with all kinds of backgrounds run. We obviously want to be able to look at conflicts, and so that is one of the issues here, and I think they’ll be able to sort that out.”

In the Democratic primary, Coakley would also face former surgeon Joe Avellone, former Medicare director Donald Berwick, homeland security expert Juliette Kayyem and state Treasurer Steve Grossman.

Coakley has hired political consultant Doug Rubin, who helped U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas, Gov. Deval Patrick, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III to victory. Speaking to reporters in Medford Monday, Rubin said Coakley would win thanks to the kind of broad grassroots effort for which the political consultant’s candidates have become famous.

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