(Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff)
Attorney General Martha Coakley today became the first candidate to formally announce a run to fill the Senate seat vacated by the death of Edward M. Kennedy.
"The urgency of this time is clear and that urgency drives my decision," Coakley said in a press conference. "Today I announce my candidacy for the United States Senate."
The 56-year-old Medford Democrat spoke of her childhood in North Adams and her history of public service: assistant district attorney, federal prosecutor, Middlesex District Attorney, and her current role as state attorney general.
"And now I hope to bring my experience to Washington," Coakley said. "I want to go to Washington to represent the Commonwealth and to make government work for you to remove barriers, provide opportunities, and to renew the promise of our democracy."
Coakley made the announcement at the Omni Parker House, a downtown hotel with historic ties to the Kennedy family. John F. Kennedy made his first public speech there at age 6, calling Boston Mayor John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, "the best grandfather a child ever had." Twenty-three years later, John F. Kennedy returned to the hotel to announce his candidacy for Congress, a run that would lead to the Senate and eventually the White House.
Coakley now seeks to fill the Senate seat held for 47 years by John F. Kennedy's younger brother in what promises to be a fierce five-month-long race. Her decision to enter the race did not come as a surprise.
The attorney general has been quietly putting together her probable Senate campaign over the past year. A Coakley representative picked up the nomination documents from the secretary of state's office Tuesday morning.
Other Democrats seriously considering running are US Representatives Michael E. Capuano, Stephen F. Lynch, and Edward J. Markey; and possibly former US representative Joseph P. Kennedy II.
Potential Republican rivals include former lieutenant governor Kerry Healey; state Senator Scott P. Brown of Wrentham; former US attorney Michael J. Sullivan; and former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling.
Coakley has not been shy about her political ambitions, consistently saying she would entertain running for higher office -- including for Senator John F. Kerry's seat, when he was rumored to be on the short list for the nation's secretary of state, or for Governor Deval Patrick's seat, were he to accept an appointment in the Obama administration.
She opened a political bank account to begin exploring a possible run for Senate, an action that was said to anger Kennedy loyalists. The account has allowed her to test the waters for a run for federal office, but without disclosing the source of contributions unless she ultimately decides to run.
While Coakley, the only female statewide officeholder, has received high marks from voters during her 2 1/2-year tenure as attorney general, she is also fairly untested in political races. She won a relatively low-profile statewide race in 2006, and would now face a major competition for the first open Senate seat since 1984.
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