Will Martha Coakley Lose Again?

By Harry Catalani ’17:

Martha CoakleyFour years ago, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley was catapulted to national prominence by losing the special senate election for the seat held by late liberal icon Ted Kennedy. Her loss in 2010 to little-known state senator Scott Brown, who is now running for the United States Senate in New Hampshire, shocked the national political community with the reality that a Democrat really could lose in a state as deep-blue as Massachusetts. Now, four years later and less than two weeks from the upcoming midterm elections, there is growing concern amongst national Democrats that Coakley will lose once again.

Coakley is now running for Governor of Massachusetts against Charlie Baker, the Republican nominee for governor in 2010. Coakley was originally expected to coast to the general election, but a tougher-than-predicted Democratic primary against Steve Grossman, the former chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, yielded a less predictable outcome. The Boston Globe recently released a poll showing Baker with a significant lead over Coakley in the general election, suggesting that support for Baker is at 45% while support for Coakley hovers only at 36%. This is a significant change from a poll released a week ago that showed both candidates tied at 41%.

In response to the Boston Globe poll and several other public polls showing Coakley’s lead collapsing, national Democrats have jumped to her aid. Hoping to prevent a situation recalling Coakley’s loss to Brown in 2010, the Coakley campaign has brought in major Democratic names such as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and First Lady Michelle Obama. Campaign staffers believe these major names in Democratic politics will help invigorate the voter base and raise enough money to push Coakley over the finish line on Election Day.

There is also a historic dimension to this election that should not be overlooked. If elected, Martha Coakley would be Massachusetts’ first elected female governor. However, it is not clear whether the historic role of this race or the flow of national support will help Coakley in what is predicted to be a very Republican-friendly electorate. Although she still has the luxury of being a Democrat in a blue state, the possibility that her legacy may be marred by another loss is continuing to grow. The true question is: will Martha Coakley become Massachusetts’ next governor? Or will she lose—again?





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