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Thousands of Democrats converged on the UMass Lowell campus Saturday to revamp their party platform and spend some time with what is a growing field of contenders for the governor's office.
Outside the Tsongas Center, state Treasurer Steven Grossman's supporters were getting ready for the expected announcement, preparing water bottles with his name on them to hand out to conventioneers.
Volunteer Tehrene Hart, of New Bedford, was already wearing a bright orange baseball jersey with Grossman's name emblazoned on the front and the number 14, for 2014, on the back.
"I want to look like a pumpkin, that was my dream. I try to work with that. Steve Grossman has been great. I met him a couple weeks ago at a banquet for the coalition for social justice and I liked what he had to say," Hart said. "His speech was great, he was presentable, he knew those issues.. and I liked him."
Nearby, Attorney General Martha Coakley's supporters held up big signs displaying her name and website. They are hopeful, though they aren't sure exactly what Coakley's running for next.
"We don't know yet. Right now attorney general, I guess," said Sally Nelligan of West Roxbury, who wants Coakley to run for governor.
But in her remarks inside a few minutes later, Coakley remained coy about her intentions.
"So I know there are a lot of people making announcements today," Coakley said. "I have one, too. Tomorrow is my 60th birthday."
It was Grossman who took the limelight at the Democratic convention. In a brief statement he announced both his candidacy and his support for paid family leave.
"If I am privileged to be sworn in in January of 2015 as the next governor of this commonwealth, I pledge to you that I will make paid family leave the very first bill I file as your new governor of this commonwealth," Grossman said.
Grossman later added that he wanted to "level the playing field" for Bay State residents. "And if you look at my record as treasurer, you have to look no further than the small-business banking partnership to level the playing field for women, for people of color, for immigrants and for veterans."
Grossman got a positive response from many in the room. And several Democrats said they were wary of a Coakley candidacy, citing her lackluster campaign against Scott Brown in 2010. Still, Anne Manning, of Ashland, says Coakley deserves another look, based on her work against the Defense of Marriage Act and the campaigning she did for Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen-elect Ed Markey — who will be sworn in on Tuesday.
"I was disappointed in that campaign. But I've appreciated since then that Martha Coakley has done so much for Elizabeth [Warren] and Ed [Markey]," Manning said.
And most rank and file Democrats said they're keeping their minds open — attending the convention to hear more from all the gubernatorial candidates, including less well-known contenders such as state Sen. Dan Wolf, former federal health official Donald Berwick and biotechnology executive Joseph Avellone.
This program aired on July 14, 2013.
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