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Shannon Liss-Riordan, labor attorney and former US Senate candidate, weighing run for attorney general

Shannon Liss-Riordan spoke during a protest in Cambridge in 2020.Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe/The Boston Globe

Shannon Liss-Riordan, a Brookline labor attorney and one-time US Senate candidate, has told associates she is weighing a bid for attorney general should Maura Healey not seek reelection to the seat next year, according to two people with knowledge of her plans.

Liss-Riordan, 52, has told activists she’s interested in the office, which Healey has led for the last seven years, and has begun considering “what her campaign team will look like,” according to one person who’s informally advising her and spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private discussions.

Healey is considering a run for governor, but has not yet said what she plans to do in 2022, when every statewide office is on the ballot.


Steven Tolman, president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, said Liss-Riordan told him in a phone call that she is “definitely going to look at” the attorney general’s race if it’s an open seat. The AFL-CIO has a formal process before it chooses to endorse any candidate, and with a still unsettled field, it has not yet chosen to back anyone for attorney general. But Tolman said labor officials “would certainly take her candidate very seriously.”

“She has a reputation of working with labor leaders, for members, and in both cases, standing up to injustices perpetuated by corporate America,” Tolman said.

Liss-Riordan declined to comment.

She’s not alone in exploring a potential run. Quentin Palfrey, Massachusetts Democrats’ 2018 nominee for lieutenant governor and an attorney who has served in the Biden administration, said in July that he was forming an exploratory committee for a 2022 attorney general bid. Palfrey said he would not seek the office if Healey runs for reelection.

A partner at Lichten & Liss-Riordan in Boston, Liss-Riordan has focused her career on representing waiters, fast-food workers, drivers, exotic dancers, and other low-paid workers who allege wage theft and misclassification as independent contractors by their employers.


She has gained national attention for her legal crusades on behalf of workers against Amazon, Google, FedEx, and Starbucks.

She’s also been among those supporting labor officials and advocates who’ve formed the Coalition to Protect Workers’ Rights, a group that is opposing a potential ballot question that would allow tech companies such as Uber, Lyft, Instacart, and DoorDash to continue classifying drivers and deliverers as independent contractors instead of employees, while granting the workers some new benefits. (Healey argues they must be treated as employees under state law.)

Liss-Riordan was the first Democrat to challenge Senator Edward J. Markey during his reelection bid, but dropped out after eight months following the entrance of then-Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III into the field. (Markey ultimately beat Kennedy in what was one of the most high-profile Senate primaries in the country.)

In the race, Liss-Riordan also proved willing to tap her own personal wealth, loaning her campaign up to $3 million before she ended her bid. She has since remained active in Democratic political circles, including co-chairing a committee that drafted the state party’s platform ahead of its convention in September.

Matt Stout can be reached at matt.stout@globe.com. Follow him @mattpstout.