Candidate Tuesday #1 – Martha Coakley
The countdown is on. We are a mere 91 days away from the primaries in the special election to fill Senator Kennedy’s vacant seat. The time to differentiate has come and candidates can’t waste any time getting their message out to the masses and filling their campaign coffers. Since Kennedy’s passing, we have seen the following occur:
Attorney General Martha Coakley (D)
Selectman Bob Burr (R)
Taken out papers to run, but haven’t officially announced:
Congressman Stephen Lynch (D)
State Senator Scott Brown (R)
Fmr. Rep. Joseph Kennedy (D)
Victoria Kennedy (D)
Congressman Barney Frank (D)
Congressman Bill Delahunt (D)
Governor Deval Patrick (D)
Lt. Governor Tim Murray (D)
Fmr. Governor Mitt Romney (R)
Fmr. Lt. Gov. Kerry Healy (R)
Beyond these folks, there are a number of people who are still considering it and who will likely make a decision sooner rather than later. Now that it appears there will be no Kennedy in the race, more Democrats are likely to jump in.
Ok, with all that out of the way it is time to take a look at our first candidate, Attorney General Martha Coakley.
Martha Coakley (who shares a birthday with my wife) is 56 years old and, since 2006, has been the Attorney General of Massachusetts. Winning the election with 73% of the vote, Coakley is the first woman to ever serve as Attorney General of the Bay State and is the top female elected official in the state. You can visit her webpage here. She brings many years of experience as a District Attorney and, according to different groups who have worked with her, a strong work ethic and genuine empathy for the people she represents. As AG, she has been on the inside of management of the state’s universal health care program and has done a lot of work on cost containment as it relates to health care in the Commonwealth.
According to the Huffington Post, Coakley told her supporters she decided to run “because government should work well and it has to work for everyone,” adding that the performance of government “has been in some ways disheartening and discouraging…I believe now is the time to move beyond the idea of, well, `It’s good enough for government work,’ and demand a new standard of excellence. And I know that I need to prove to voters across the commonwealth that I am the best candidate and that I would be the best new senator from Massachusetts…”
We are sure to learn more about her as the primary draws near but, for now, it is fair to say that she would be a solidly liberal voice in the Senate whose priorities will include tackling crime (of all sorts), consumer protection, defending civil rights and, hopefully, health care reform. She doesn’t have real experience in foreign policy, so I wouldn’t expect her to be a strong voice in those policy discussions. The influence she will have and the mark she will leave will be in the areas noted above. When you think about the major issues Congress will be tackling in the months to come – health care, energy, education and, of course, the fragile economy – Ms. Coakley could well add valuable skills and opinions.
On the other hand, her lack of legislative experience could hold her back as she attempts to make changes and do good things in Washington. I admit that it isn’t fair to compare any of these candidates to Senator Kennedy…however, he excelled in reaching across the aisle and knowing when to compromise and when to play tough. Stories abound of him playing the game perfectly and, in so doing, getting the end result he wanted. With such huge issues, do we want to elect someone who doesn’t have that experience and will take some time to learn it? Can we afford the learning curve?
Next week: Bob Burr (R)