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Coakley weighs run for governor

AG’s popularity rises after 2010 loss for Senate

Attorney General Martha Coakley is giving serious consideration to running for governor, Democratic Party operatives said on Thursday.

John Tlumacki/ Globe Staff

Attorney General Martha Coakley is giving serious consideration to running for governor, Democratic Party operatives said on Thursday.

Attorney General Martha Coakley, whose political standing has rebounded after her embarrassing defeat in the 2010 US Senate race against Scott Brown, is giving serious consideration to running for governor, Democratic Party operatives said on Thursday.

Those people said Coakley is gauging the political climate and reviewing the dynamics of jumping into what is becoming a crowded Democratic primary race, and is on the verge of making a final decision.

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“She’s seriously thinking about it,’’ said a person familiar with her decision-making. “She knows she has to make a decision soon.”

A number of women’s activist groups, including EMILY’s List, are encouraged by polls that show Coakley to be one of the most popular political figures in the state and have asked her during the last few months to consider a run for governor, according to those familiar with the conversations.

Coakley’s entrance into the race would dramatically reshape the Democratic campaign.

If Martha Coakley runs for governor, she would be the only woman in a developing field that might include a half-dozen male candidates.

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The two-term attorney general would be the highest profile candidate among the Democrats. Despite being blamed for running a lackluster campaign against Brown that exasperated the national party and creating residual hard feelings in some Democratic quarters, Coakley may have rehabilitated her image, recent polls have showed.

Perhaps most significantly, she would be the only woman in a developing field that could include a half-dozen male candidates. EMILY’s List, whose mission is to elect women to public office, could provide Coakley significant financial resources through its national fund-raising network. The organization has not endorsed anyone in the race.

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Local female activists — most prominently political fund-raiser and activist Barbara Lee — have also been in close touch with Coakley, encouraging her to run.

Adrienne Kimmell, executive director of the Barbara Lee Political Office, said Lee has been in touch with Coakley but has not heard of any decision. “I don’t think Barbara knows what she plans to do,’’ Kimmell said. “I don’t think anyone knows what she plans do.’’

Coakley may announce her plans before a July 10 fund-raiser she is holding in Boston to celebrate her 60th birthday.

In addition, Lee and EMILY’s List have contacted other potential female candidates including Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll and homeland security expert Juliette Kayyem, who is on a book leave from her job as a Globe columnist.

Coakley’s candidacy would overshadow that of state Treasurer Steven Grossman, the only other statewide officeholder in the race. Grossman, a former state and national party chairman, has strong ties to Massachusetts Democratic Party activists who dominate primary races. He has thus far been considered the most formidable figure in a nascent field.

But Grossman’s Democratic connections did not prevent the Democratic Governors Association from encouraging Coakley to run. Officials from the association, another Washington-based organization designed to elect Democrats, met with Coakley recently to make its pitch, according to a person familiar with the meeting.

The state’s gubernatorial campaign, which would have already picked up steam in most normal years, has taken a back seat to the US Senate special election that ended this week with Edward J. Markey’s victory. Now the political focus turns to 2014.

With Brown refusing to publicly rule out a possible run for governor, Massachusetts voters could see a rematch between the two whose 2010 race captured the nation's interest.

Charles D. Baker, the 2010 GOP nominee, has also given clear signals to party insiders that he will make another run next year. He lost to Governor Deval Patrick, 48 to 42 percent, in a three-way fight.

Brown would be a formidable primary election obstacle for Baker, who many think would defer to the former senator.

As for the Democrats, the field continues to grow. Two candidates with very low name recognition — physicians Donald Berwick of Newton and Joseph C. Avellone of Wellesley — have already announced their candidacies.

US Representative Stephen F. Lynch, who lost the special Senate primary to Markey by 14 percentage points, is mulling a gubernatorial bid, people close to him said.

Another Massachusetts congressman, Michael E. Capuano of Somerville, is also giving serious consideration to running and will make a decision later in the summer, according to an adviser. If Capuano does not run, Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone is set to join the race, Democratic Party sources have confirmed.

State Senator Dan Wolf, a Harwich Democrat and chief executive and co-founder of Cape Air, the Barnstable-based airline, has told associates that he intends to run, with plans to announce shortly.

“I will be making clear my plans in the near future,” Wolf told the Globe Thursday.

Wolf has been informally working to develop his candidacy with Northwind Strategies, the consulting firm led by former aides to Governor Deval Patrick. The firm has also been talking to other potential candidates. Wolf called the decision to seek the Corner Office “a 10-year commitment,” between the campaign and potentially two four-year terms.

“You have to believe there’s a path to victory, and that’s what I’m looking at,” Wolf said.

In order to address the state Democratic convention on July 13 — considered an important proving ground for 2014 candidates — gubernatorial candidates must open a state campaign finance account and publicly state their plans to run by July 8.

Frank Phillips can be reached at phillips@globe.com. Jim O’Sullivan can be reached at james.osullivan@globe.com.

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