SPRINGFIELD - Elizabeth Warren and Marisa DeFranco were conspicuously working the floor of the Democratic State Convention on Saturday as they battled to win their party’s US Senate endorsement, but discreetly mingling among the 3,500 delegates as well were four other possible aspirants.
Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray, Attorney General Martha Coakley, treasurer Steve Grossman, and auditor Suzanne Bump were shaking hands and slapping backs as the first half of Governor Deval Patrick’s final term ended, and the race to succeed him begins to form.
“Who might run?’’ said Warren Tolman, a former state senator and the party’s 1998 candidate for lieutenant governor. “All the statewide officeholders have money, visibility, and, by all accounts, are doing a pretty good job. That means everybody might run - except the guy currently in the corner office.’’
In interviews with the Globe, several of the prospective Democratic candidates said their focus was on 2012, not 2014, but with some prodding, they conceded the next gubernatorial race is not completely absent from their thinking.
“Right now my focus is doing my job, electing a Democratic senator, reelecting Barack Obama,’’ said Grossman. “Early next year, I’ll sit down with family, supporters, figure out how I can best serve the people of the Commonwealth. That’s for then. Now is all about one thing: winning on Nov. 6, and getting my job done every single day.’’
Murray, who repeatedly described the convention as a “chance to talk to friends,’’ ultimately said, “Obviously, it’s a possibility, and we’re going to be ready for any and all opportunities.’’
Coakley has declared she will seek reelection as attorney general rather than run for governor, but two years after her devastating US Senate loss to Republican Scott Brown, she has rehabilitated her career to the point where she was greeted as a heroine both at the AFL-CIO breakfast and in the convention hall.
She highlighted regulatory work being done by her office, but quickly shifted to broader political themes.
“We need to send Democrats to the House in Washington - and the Senate - and most importantly, we need to do some housekeeping: We want to keep President Obama in the White House,’’ she said.
Sharpening her language, Coakley added: “The next time the Republicans ask the question, ‘Are we better off now than four years ago,’ I want you to say, ‘That’s the wrong question.’ You are going to say, ‘Why were we so bad off four years ago?’ And we know the answer to that.’’
Bump sounded a similar theme in opening her convention speech, accusing the GOP of leading a “retreat’’ from “the values that underlie the American success story.’’
She said: “The big Republican lie is that our government - that secures our rights, that builds our infrastructure, that protects us as consumers and as workers and as people in need - has set back our economic progress and is taking away the opportunity for individual success.’’
Perhaps the one potential candidate with the most work to do was Murray, who is still salvaging his political reputation after questions about the circumstances of his early-morning car accident last fall.
A prodigious campaigner from his days as a Worcester city councilor and mayor, he was the first of the constitutional officers at the convention hall.
He worked the lobby before moving upstairs to the AFL-CIO breakfast. He hit two other breakfasts before delivering his convention speech.
Murray lauded Western Massachusetts residents for working together to recover from a string of devastating tornadoes a year ago, and he tried to harness that spirit by rallying receptive delegates to be “all-in’’ to the cause.
“It’s time to get fired up for the fall, and get to work for candidates across the state and across the country, because we are proud to be Democrats, energized by the values of our politics and all-in to keep our Commonwealth and our country moving in the right direction,’’ said Murray.
Nonetheless, Patrick showed all the aspirants that while he’s going in two years, he is not yet gone.
He gave the day’s most rousing speech of all.