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Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, one of the state’s most popular politicians, endorsed Senator Elizabeth Warren for president Thursday, handing her fellow Democrat an important — if not all that surprising — endorsement hours before Warren was set to face off against 2020 rivals on the debate stage.

And she’s wasting no time jumping into the fray on her candidate’s behalf: Healey was set to be at Thursday evening’s presidential debate in Houston as a surrogate for Warren, a spokesman said.

“What I’ve come to know is that Elizabeth Warren is laser focused on how we help families in this state and across this country,” Healey wrote in a letter to supporters Thursday, announcing her endorsement. “She also knows that you can’t just tell people what you’re going to do. Real change happens when you have a plan to get it done, and the resolve and strategy to fight for it.”

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Healey and Warren have been close allies since before either entered elected office. As a lawyer in the state attorney general’s office during the 2008 financial crisis, Healey was closely involved in grappling with the tsunami of home foreclosures that ensued — and Warren, then a professor at Harvard Law School, was a key adviser to Healey and her colleagues.

Healey, who has gained national attention for her aggressive legal battles against the Trump administration, was raised in New Hampshire, home of the nation’s first primary contest. A strong public speaker, Healey could be an asset for Warren there, as well as in Massachusetts — should the Democratic primary remain contested through Super Tuesday, March 3.


Victoria McGrane can be reached at victoria.mcgrane@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @vgmac.