Attorney General Race Heating Up As Primary Nears

The two-way Democratic contest for attorney general is heating up as the primary looms.

On Monday, former state Sen. Warren Tolman launched the campaign's first television ad. Tolman is facing fellow Democrat Maura Healey, a former top deputy to Attorney General Martha Coakley, who is running for governor.

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)

In the 30-second ad, Tolman says he promises to make gun violence and violence against women a priority if elected to the state's top law enforcement office.

Tolman says he'll push for fingerprint trigger locks on new guns and will vigorously enforce the states' new abortion clinic law.

The ad shows Tolman outside one of the two Boston-area abortion clinics where gunman John Salvi opened fire in 1994, killing two receptionists and wounding five others. Salvi killed himself in prison in 1996.

The ad then shows Tolman in front of the Statehouse and the Supreme Court. A recent Supreme Court ruling struck down a 2007 Massachusetts law that established protest-free 35-foot "buffer zones" around the entrances of abortion clinics. That prompted lawmakers to pass a new law toughening public safety measures around abortion clinics.

"As Attorney General, I'll focus on gun violence and violence against women," Tolman says in the ad. "I won't wait to require fingerprint trigger locks on new guns sold. And if you endanger women at a health clinic, you'll be prosecuted."

Tolman has argued that he can use existing regulatory power as attorney general to require fingerprint trigger locks or other "smart gun" technologies on new guns sold in Massachusetts.

Healey's campaign said she's been meeting with voters around the state and plans to continue reaching out to them in person, through the media and through advertising.

Healey and Tolman have both praised a bill approved by state lawmakers designed to toughen Massachusetts' gun laws.

Healey in particular has hailed a portion of the bill that would create a firearms trafficking unit within the state police to work with the attorney general's office to track guns used in crimes.

"Having this information is how we shut down illegal guns moving inside Massachusetts and coming in from other states," Healey said in a recent email to supporters.

Gov. Deval Patrick is expected to sign the bill this week.

As of the end of July, Tolman had raised more than $1 million compared with nearly $731,000 for Healey. Tolman also has booked up to $1 million in ad time through the primary.

Winchester attorney John Miller is the lone Republican candidate for attorney general. He has raised about $185,000.

Tolman served as state representative and senator from 1991 to 1999. He was the party's nominee for lieutenant governor in 1998 and in 2002 launched a failed bid for governor. More recently he's worked at the law firm of Holland and Knight.

Healey headed up two divisions in the attorney general's office and helped spearhead the state's successful challenge to the portion of the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act which barred married gay couples in Massachusetts from receiving the same federal benefits as straight couples. She resigned to launch her campaign.

The primary is Sept. 9.


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