Completing a speedy ascension in state politics, former prosecutor Maura Healey on Tuesday won the race to succeed Attorney General Martha Coakley, beating out Republican attorney John Miller of Winchester for the state's top law enforcement office.
Healey, a 43-year-old Charlestown Democrat making her first run for public office, had won 63 percent of the vote compared to 37 percent for Miller with 87 percent of the votes counted Tuesday night. Her win will make her the nation's first openly gay state attorney general.
Democrats, starting with former House Speaker Robert Quinn, have held the office since 1969.
During the race, Healey stressed her experience as the chief of the civil rights division in the attorney general's office, running on an anti-casino platform and saying she'll use the office to act as the "people's lawyer," citing her argument in 2009 against the Defense of Marriage Act in federal court as an example.
In her acceptance speech, she addressed casinos. "To those worried about casinos, I will hold their feet to the fire," she said.
"I will give it everything I've got every day, and I'm going to leave it all on the court," she said at the Fairmont Copley Plaza.
Healey thanked her opponent, supporters, voters and her former boss, Attorney General Martha Coakley. Healey said, "I'm here today because of Martha Coakley. Martha Coakley has shown this country what a great attorney general can do . . . I couldn't have asked for a better mentor, a better friend, a better role model."
Healey resigned last year to run for the attorney general's office.
MassEquality on Tuesday night said Healey will in January become the first openly gay state attorney general in the United States.
"Maura's win tonight is an historic victory for LGBTQ people and for LGBTQ equality," MassEquality Executive Director KC Coredini said in a statement. "Maura has spent the last seven years in the attorney general's office making the Commonwealth a national leader on LGBTQ issues with her vision, drive and talent.
"Now, as the country's first openly gay state attorney general she is poised to make history again, not only with what more she will accomplish in this critical office, but with who she is. For LGBTQ young people everywhere, Maura is an example of how far they can go, and how much they can accomplish. We look forward to continuing to work with her to ensure a level playing field for all and to raise the bar on equality and justice, both across this state and the nation."
Healey's campaign highlighted her experience as a former point guard for an Austrian professional basketball team, playing up her experience on the court in campaign ads and literature.
According to her campaign website, Healey pledges to act as a "21st century ratepayer advocate, seeking savings for consumers by controlling energy costs, reducing energy use" and creating a "more coordinated system for reviewing constituent complaints."
Her campaign website adds that the "rigged hiring system uncovered in the Probation Department is a prime example of the kind of misconduct I will root out as Attorney General."
According to a Families Against Mandatory Minimums questionnaire she filled out, Healey supports ending mandatory minimums for non-violent drug offenses and expanding drug courts and mental health courts.
She has also said she will create a child and youth protection division in the office, focusing on child welfare issues and advising the state Department of Children and Families.
Healey faced former Sen. Warren Tolman (D-Watertown) in a feisty primary, winning with 62 percent of the vote and grabbing the attention of Democratic activists who now consider her a rising star within the party and a possible candidate for governor in 2018.
During a primary debate with Tolman, Healey declined to take a pledge not to run for higher office if she won the attorney general's race.
Miller, a 61-year-old who was also making his first run for public office, was unopposed in his primary.
In conceding to Healey, Miller said Massachusetts was in "desperate need" of an attorney general who would apply the law impartially and take a "professional, not a political approach" to the office.
"The fight for impartial, fact based justice from a non-partisan attorney general goes on," Miller said.
Matt Murphy and Andy Metzger contributed reporting.