Secretary of State William F. Galvin announced Tuesday that he will not run for attorney general, effectively quelling Democratic jockeying to succeed him, and opening a scramble for the state’s top law enforcement post.
Galvin’s interest in the seat Attorney General Martha Coakley is leaving to run for governor had for months frozen much of the behind-the-scenes strategizing as political hopefuls consider a menu of statewide constitutional offices opening next year. Tuesday’s news, that he will seek reelection to the position he has held since 1995, answered perhaps the most consequential political question remaining about the 2014 field.
With nearly two decades on the job and a war chest of more than $2 million, Galvin was considered untouchable against an intraparty challenge.
Already on Tuesday, one elected Democrat signaled his intention to run for attorney general. State Representative Hank Naughton of Clinton, who had previously said he planned to run for lieutenant governor, will announce his campaign for the attorney general’s post later this month, an adviser said.
Bristol district attorney C. Samuel Sutter, Essex district attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett, Lowell state Senator Eileen Donoghue, former state senator Warren Tolman, and former homeland security official Juliette Kayyem, who is currently running for governor, are also names frequently cited by Democratic insiders as possible successors to Coakley.
As they attempt to cobble together a roster of statewide candidates to complement gubernatorial candidate Charles D. Baker, Republicans said Tuesday that they, too, sensed a political opportunity in the wide-open attorney general’s race.
One Republican strategist pointed to Peter Flaherty, a longtime adviser to former governor Mitt Romney, and former US attorney Michael J. Sullivan, who ran unsuccessfully for Senate this year, as potential candidates.
With Galvin opting to try for a sixth term, there will be four constitutional offices on the 2014 ballot whose current occupants will not be seeking reelection. Galvin and state Auditor Suzanne Bump will be the only incumbents working to convince voters to send them back to Beacon Hill.
Galvin said he had been very close to running for attorney general, but wanted to continue to push the issues he has made priorities since he was elected secretary of state in 1994. Those include expanding voter participation among new immigrants, overseeing an address confidentiality program for victims of domestic violence, historical preservation, and securities investigations.
Coakley’s delay in announcing her gubernatorial campaign also complicated his thinking, Galvin said.
“Usually, in my political history, I have seldom if ever started off as the front-runner, and it seemed like, if there was nobody else running, I was,” Galvin said.