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Coakley is back for a second chance in Massachusetts

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley is back for another statewide campaign in Massachusetts—and is the early favorite in a crowded Democratic primary
Martha Coakley
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley speaks at the state Democratic Convention in Lowell, Mass., Saturday, July 13, 2013.

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley is back for another statewide campaign in Massachusetts—and is the early favorite in a crowded Democratic primary for governor as she seeks political redemption after her embarrassing 2010 loss in the Senate special election to Republican Scott Brown.

Panned for a lackluster campaign and stumbles, her surprising five point loss was one of the first tremors of success for the GOP and nascent Tea Party movement ahead of the fall midterms. Brown lost his election for a full-term last November to Democrat Elizabeth Warren.

In 2010, Coakley also easily won re-election to another term as attorney general. Polling early last year showed she was the most popular statewide elected in the Bay State, with a favorability rating of 62%.

Her past loss isn’t something Coakley is running from in her new campaign launch, though. In a slick two-minute video released Monday, there’s footage of her shaking hands on the streets and talking to voter—after she was panned in the Senate race for bristling at the thought of “standing outside Fenway Park” and shaking hands.

“You know, a lot of folks say that politics is tough, and it can be. I know what it’s like to lose a race,” Coakley says in the video. “I know how hard that is. But you know what? It’s nothing compared to what so many people go through every day in their lives. And that’s what I’ll keep in mind every day if you give me the privilege to be your governor.”

Coakley still faces a crowded Democratic primary, but her entrance casts the longest shadow on the race to succeed Democrat Deval Patrick, who isn’t seeking a third term. Treasurer Steven Grossman, a former Democratic National Committee chairman, is the only other statewide official in the race. Former Obama Medicare/Medicaid administrator Don Berwick, former Homeland Security Department official Juliette Kayyem and pharmaceutical executive Joseph Avellone are also running.

“Now that she’s in, she’s the frontrunner,” longtime Massachusetts Democratic strategist Mary Anne Marsh told “She’s the most well-known and well-liked of the candidates on the Democratic side so far—which is exactly where she was when she got into the race against Scott Brown.”

But the new vigor with which Coakley has kicked off her campaign in a three day, 18-community tour across the commonwealth, has impressed Democrats.

She’s obviously decided to use this first foray out of the box to convince people she is indeed a different candidate who’s learned her lesson,” said Marsh.

EMILY's List is also likely to back her gubernatorial bid, after endorsing her previous campaigns.

"It's clear the people of Massachusetts know and trust Martha Coakley's leadership, EMILY's List has been proud to support Attorney General Coakley in the past and we are excited to see the overwhelming enthusiasm from voters as she kicks off her tour across the state," said EMILY's List spokeswoman Marcy Stech.

And on her first day on the campaign trail, Coakley said she is taking her past missteps to heart.

“Look, people make mistakes. I know that,” said Coakley, according to the Boston Globe. “The key is: Do you recognize that? Do you learn from it and turn it around?” she said. “And, Massachusetts it seems, is going to be able to change that around in this instance and I think learn a lesson going forward.”

If she wins the Democratic nomination, Coakley won’t be the only candidate asking the voters for a second chance. So far, only Republican Charlie Baker, who lost in 2010 for governor, is in for the GOP.