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Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley on Wednesday became the first candidate for Massachusetts governor to formally submit nomination signatures to the secretary of state's office, and said she was taking nothing for granted despite recent polls suggesting she is the early front-runner.
Coakley helped staff members deliver boxes containing more than 13,000 signatures of registered voters to the secretary of state's office, and said more would be filed in the coming weeks. Candidates must turn in at least 10,000 signatures no later than June 3 to qualify for the September primary election ballot. The signatures must be certified by city and town clerks.
Now in her second term as attorney general, Coakley suffered a stinging defeat to Republican Scott Brown in a 2010 special election for the U.S. Senate after the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy. She referenced that setback while assuring that the early polls giving her a clear lead over other contenders would not produce overconfidence in the campaign.
"If anyone knows the risks of that, I do," she said. "I have won races before and not won races before, and I got into this race convinced that I could be a good governor, that I could run a good grassroots campaign."
Four other Democrats are seeking the party's nomination to succeed two-term Gov. Deval Patrick, who is not seeking re-election. They are businessman Joseph Avellone; Donald Berwick, a pediatrician and former top health care official in the Obama administration; state Treasurer Steven Grossman; and Juliette Kayyem, a former state and federal homeland security official.
Charlie Baker, the 2010 Republican gubernatorial nominee, won the lion's share of delegates at last month's GOP state convention while tea party member Mark Fisher has filed a court challenge against the vote count that left him just shy of his party's 15 percent threshold.
In addition to the signature requirement, the candidates must get the support of at least 15 percent of the delegates to the June 14 Democratic state convention. Coakley is expected to easily surpass that mark as is Grossman, with the other candidates vying for their share of the remaining delegates.
Coakley is seeking to become the state's first elected woman governor.
She also is a strong supporter of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is considering a second campaign for president and was addressing a women's leadership forum in Boston on Wednesday. Coakley said she hoped Clinton would run.
"But if she does, she will know that she has learned from the last race, and she needs to win this time around," Coakley said.