Warren E. Tolman, the former Democratic state senator and onetime nominee for lieutenant governor, will announce Thursday that he is running for attorney general, setting up what will probably be a lively three-way contest for the nomination to replace Martha Coakley.
In a brief interview, Tolman confirmed that he will release a statement declaring his candidacy and then spend the next several weeks traveling across the state on a campaign tour.
"It's an exciting office,'' the former Watertown lawmaker said. ""It offers a platform that allows you to make a positive impact on people's lives."
He cited in particular the attorney general's ability to help homeowners facing foreclosures, curb health care costs, and provide consumer protections for people who are being defrauded.
Two other Democrats have already joined the race. Maura T. Healey, who recently resigned as Coakley's chief of the Public Protection and Advocacy Bureau, announced her candidacy last month. State Representative Harold P. Naughton Jr., a veteran lawmaker from Clinton, also jumped into the race after Coakley said in mid-September that she would run for governor.
Tolman, who campaigned unsuccessfully for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2002, has twice run for statewide office, and he has the name recognition that comes from media exposure commenting on state politics. While practicing law at the Boston office of Holland & Knight, he also maintained his ties to the Democratic political establishment.
Tolman, 54, grew up in Brighton in a working-class family. He graduated from Amherst College and Boston College Law School. The seventh of eight children, he was the first of his family to graduate from college.
He first entered the House in 1991 and won a state Senate seat in 1994. He prevailed in a tough two-person primary race for lieutenant governor in 1998, joining the ticket led by Scott Harshbarger, the former attorney general. They lost a close election to Paul Cellucci.
As a lawmaker, Tolman worked on tightening campaign finance laws and ethics statutes. He was one of the leaders in the 1990s movement to curb tobacco use and to battle the cigarette industry.
Tolman will face a thorny issue, both in the campaign and if he is elected, over how he will handle labor issues. His brother, Steven A. Tolman, is president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO. Part of the duties of the attorney general is to oversee and enforce laws involving labor relations and fair wage issues.