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Coakley’s day starts with low-key, low-risk events

Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley chatted with a woman at the Salem Polish Festival on Sunday.

By Globe Staff 

Flanked by aides and her husband, the candidate positioned herself at the end of a crosswalk near North Station, put a smile on her face and stuck out her hand to passing waves of commuters.

“Good morning, how are you?” she said repeatedly. “I’d love your vote tomorrow.”

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The candidate often did not say her name to the men and women streaming by, because she did not need to. People know Martha Coakley. A few wished her good luck.

A day before voters choose the Democratic nominee for governor, the frontrunner began her Monday with two low-key and low-risk campaign appearances, shaking hands for less than 10 minutes across the street from North Station and then chatting with about a half-dozen supporters over coffee at a Malden restaurant.

Coakley, the attorney general, has led her two party rivals by a wide margin in every recent public poll of the race.

So while her campaign ramped up its get-out-the-vote efforts, Coakley remained subdued if cheerful.

“We’re excited about today and tomorrow. We’ve been working hard all weekend. We’ve been working hard since September actually, last September,” she told a gaggle of reporters before she shook hands in Boston.

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Coakley said she expected a good turnout of her voters and had gotten a very positive reception on the campaign trail, in particular to her recently released plan for economic and regional development.

At Franny’s Restaurant on Lebanon Street in Malden, with US Representative Katherine M. Clark at her side, Coakley worked the room, shaking hands and chatting easily with patrons.

One woman told the attorney general she had already voted.

“We’re up to 23!” Coakley said with a chuckle.

In brief remarks, Coakley told the small crowd — a smattering of supporters, staffers, members of the media, and two video camera-wielding trackers from Republican groups — that it was important to exercise the right to vote.

She noted that women had been given the right to vote in the United States less than a century ago.

“We’re working on the 100th anniversary, but in the meantime, the more we exercise it, the stronger it is,” she said, pausing for a moment and reflecting on what she said. “I just made that up.”

The crowd laughed.

“Anyway, all right, I guess I need a cup of coffee,” she said, before getting a mug.

“Great little spot,” she said a few minutes later, to her husband, Thomas F. O’Connor Jr., a retired police deputy superintendent.

Many people in the restaurant had come to see Coakley, including Isabel Szczawinski of Tewksbury. “I think she’s wonderful, Martha,” Szczawinski said, adding she was supporting the attorney general because of record and experience. She also noted Coakley, a former Middlesex district attorney, had been a “strong DA.”

In a short interview at Franny’s Coakley again touted her economic plan focused on boosting growth across the state, including regions outside the booming Boston metro area. One of her Democratic rivals, Treasurer Steve Grossman, has criticized it for being vague.

Asked to explain in detail what it would do, Coakley said the plan would invest half a billion dollars over 10 years with $400 million for infrastructure and $100 million for competitive grants for local improvements.

Would she raise taxes to pay for it?

“I’ve said, if we have to do that, I’m obviously going to have to make the case, and I would never do it in a way that would impact either the middle class or those people who can’t afford it,” she said, adding she didn’t think taxes would need to be raised for it.

On Tuesday, Coakley faces Grossman and former Medicare and Medicaid chief Don Berwick.

Grossman was scheduled to campaign from Roxbury to Lowell today. Berwick is set to campaign in Lexington, Arlington and Cambridge.

The winner of the primary will face either Republican Charlie Baker or Mark Fisher on the November ballot. Also running: independent candidates Evan Falchuk, Scott Lively and Jeff McCormick.


Joshua Miller can be reached at joshua.miller@globe.com
Follow him on Twitter @jm_bos.