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Maura Healey announces her bid for Massachusetts governor05:10
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Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. Her office launched an investigation into the Danvers school district. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. Her office launched an investigation into the Danvers school district. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Attorney General Maura Healey announced Thursday she is running for governor, joining a growing field of Massachusetts politicians hoping to succeed Gov. Charlie Baker.

In a campaign video posted on her website, Healey said she sees a state that's coming together with courage, grit and caring to do great things.

"I've stood with you as the people's lawyer and now I'm running to be your governor to bring us together and come back stronger than ever," Healey said in the video that highlighted her life story and accomplishments.

Among the campaign issues she listed in the video are job training, affordable child care, school modernization and climate change.

Many political observers consider Healey the early favorite for the November 2022 election, because she is the only candidate in the race to have won a statewide election. The 50-year-old Democrat has served as attorney general since 2015 and has more than $3 million in her campaign accounts.

Two other prominent Democrats are also running for governor: state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz and Harvard professor Danielle Allen. Former state Sen. Ben Downing, another Democrat, ended his campaign in December. On the Republican side, former state Rep. Geoff Diehl is the most well-known candidate seeking the GOP nomination for governor.  Chris Doughty, an investor and partner with Capstan Industries, has also been mentioned as a potential Republican candidate.

Baker, one of the most popular governors in the country, shook up the race at the beginning of December when the Republican announced he would not seek a third term. Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, long considered Baker’s potential heir, also decided not to seek reelection or run for governor.

A recent poll by MassInc Polling showed Healey had the highest name recognition among all the current candidates for governor;  78% of the respondents said they have heard of her.

"That's not to say that her that she's a foregone conclusion as as a winner," said MassInc pollster Steve Koczela. "On balance, many more voters held a favorable view of her than unfavorable, which is obviously where you want to start."

The MassInc poll showed that 33% of the respondents have a favorable opinion of Healey, as opposed to 17% with a negative opinion. About a quarter of those asked said they had no opinion of her yet.

Healey gained national attention as attorney general by repeatedly suing  former President Donald Trump's administration. She launched or joined more than 100 suits, challenging the previous administration on everything from Trump's family-separation policy, to lax enforcement of environmental protections to failure to protect student lenders from fraud.

"What this has been about is standing up for the rule of law, taking on actions that are illegal and unconstitutional,” Healey told WBUR in 2018. “It doesn't really matter if it's a corporation doing that or if it's, as we've seen, the president of the United States. Nobody is above the law."

Before going into politics, Healey captained the women's basketball team at Harvard University and played professional basketball in Europe. The New Hampshire native later went to Northeastern University’s law school, worked as a junior partner at Wilmer Hale and served as a former special assistant district attorney in Middlesex County.

Healey became the first openly gay attorney general in Massachusetts when she was first elected in 2014 and would become one of the first openly gay governors in the country if she wins the election next year.

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Political observers said a Healey administration likely would take the state in a decidedly progressive direction.

UMass Amherst Political Science Professor Tatishe Nteta said the race presents a unique chance for Democratic candidates who want to "push the commonwealth in a much more progressive direction." He noted the state already has a "very progressive state Legislature," making it easier for a progressive Democrat to push through  proposals.

Healey is hoping to break a string of losses by several of her predecessors in making the leap from Massachusetts attorney general to governor. Since 1990, former Attorneys General Frank Bellotti, Scott Harshbarger, Tom Reilly and Martha Coakley all fell short in their attempts to be elected governor.

In 2006, then-Attorney General Tom Reilly appeared to be the odds-on favorite to succeed Mitt Romney as governor, but Reilly saw his plans dashed in the primary by a charismatic and then-unknown politician named Deval Patrick, who went on to serve eight years as governor.

This article was originally published on January 19, 2022.

This segment aired on January 20, 2022.

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