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In Mass. AG Race, Candidates Square Off Over Gun Control, Experience

Democratic candidates for Massachusetts attorney general Warren Tolman, left, and Maura Healey. (Courtesy of the campaigns)

Democratic candidates for Massachusetts attorney general Warren Tolman, left, and Maura Healey. (Courtesy of the campaigns)

NEEDHAM, Mass. — With time running out before the primary, the two Democratic candidates seeking to become Massachusetts attorney general are becoming a bit more personal in their face-to-face meetings.

There aren’t many policy areas where candidates Warren Tolman and Maura Healey disagree, but their difference in style was on display at a debate recorded at the Needham studios of WCVB-TV. The station wouldn’t allow the media to broadcast audio of the debate. Both candidates spoke about why they want to be the state’s top attorney after the event.

Tolman is trying to make the case that his policy experience as a former state senator gives him an edge over Healey, who’s spent her career as a civil rights lawyer and an assistant to current Attorney General Martha Coakley.

“Inevitably, there will be issues where the attorney general will be on the wrong side of quote unquote public opinion. And you have to stand tall and you have to be a leader,” Tolman said.

But Healey insists her career has provided more relevant experience for the position and is casting her lack of political experience as a positive.

“I was a division and bureau chief in the attorney general’s office,” she said. “And that experience is very different than the experience of a Beacon Hill politician. And that’s how I come to this. I am not an insider, I am not a part of the Beacon Hill establishment. I am a person who has been fighting for people here in this state.”

One issue where there’s at least a slight disagreement between the candidates is new safe-gun technology. Tolman says he would require finger-print safety technology on all new handguns sold in the state and that he believes he could do that under his own authority as attorney general.

“There is an existing case in 1999 that’s pretty clear about the attorney general’s authority,” Tolman said. “Remember, we’re regulating an unsafe product; the most unsafe product sold today is guns.”

Healey also endorses the smart-gun technology, but says the AG must also work to stop gun trafficking and combat violence.

“His single-minded focus on a technology that I support but doesn’t deal with the problem today just isn’t my kind of leadership or what I want out of the attorney general’s office,” she said.

Both candidates say the attorney general has a role to play in the struggle over the past month for control of the family-owned Market Basket supermarket chain.

Healey says the top priority for the attorney general should be to protect the rights of workers. Tolman said he would have used the office to push for a resolution behind the scenes to end the conflict.

During the debate, Healey challenged Tolman about his former investment in a gambling company she says tries to get young people to gamble. Tolman calls the allegation that young people were involved false. He says he would make sure any gambling company operating in Massachusetts follows the law.

The winner of the Sept. 9 Democratic primary goes on to face Republican nominee John Miller in November.

The debate airs Sunday morning on WCVB-TV.

Earlier:

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  • CircusMcGurkus

    Tolman’s reliance on that 1999 case is misplaced. That case permits the AG to act unilaterally to create a regulation if there is a public safety benefit and that is 100% unclear with “smart guns”. In any event, any action by the AG with or without the General Court will invite significant litigation which will be costly and possibly not fruitful while more people die in neighborhoods suffering from gun violence.

    Healey’s is the better approach. Work with the legislature to create and enforce public safety as well as punishment schemes regarding unlawful firearms and at the same time work within neighborhoods to create opportunity and to strengthen all of the positive aspects of each community, have more fair housing, more opportunity, less discrimination, etc. That is, enforce the law without spending too much time overstepping the bounds of the office. If someone wants to legislate, he really should run for his old seat instead of AG.

    Tolman is a grandstander with absolutely no experience prosecuting or defending ANY case ever for anything. He has experience as a politician. But would you go to – even the very best – eye surgeon if you had liver cancer? That is, his experience is not translatable to the office he seeks to occupy. Maura Healey’s is. That makes her more qualified.

  • Lee Christmas
  • Mark W. Mullins

    I would not live in the state of Massachusetts, if they gave me the entire state, because of the liberal idiots who run, and ruin, the state.

  • WhoBeen

    Ref:“Remember, we’re regulating an unsafe product; the most unsafe product sold today is guns.”
    No, the MOST UNSAFE product sold today is a politician trying to sell us a bill of goods …guns are the safest products in the world, they do no harm to anyone…never have, never will. Now people on the other hand have been at each other’s throats since time immortal. You got the meanies and good guys with the meanies always bullying the good guys…just like politicians, the meanest people ever to come down the pike…and that includes the Mass. Pike! (pun intended). It never ceases to amaze me that all the politicians who want to place some measure of gun control upon the citizens also swear an oath to uphold the Constitution…apparently they don’t know the meaning of the the word “infringe”. Further, no politician, judge, police officer, or ordinary citizen should try to interpret the United States Constitution…THE CONSTITUTION MUST BE APPLIED AND NOT INTERPRETED else why swear an oath to uphold something you plan on destroying. While Tolman makes his position clear and should not be elected based on his hypocritical stance, Healy has not made her position clear and on that basis we need send her away from anything that may be unduly regulated…

  • WhoBeen

    By the way, if you believe that the item (in this case guns) kills people then the most unsafe product sold today is cars! But then again, cars don’t kill people, people kill people but politicians have such pea-sized brains they haven’t figured it out yet. Have you ever known a politician that can pass a logic test?

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