Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley, who drew national attention for her failed US Senate race against Republican Scott Brown, until recently faced no opponents in her campaign for reelection to her state office. Now, she has one.
Republican James P. McKenna, a Millbury lawyer has qualified for the Nov. 2 ballot through a write-in campaign in this week's primary election.
Secretary of State William F. Galvin said he notified McKenna today that he has more than the 10,000 required write-in votes to have his name on the ballot as the Republican nominee for attorney general.
McKenna's candidacy saves the state Republican leadership from what had been an embarrassing misstep, namely its inability to recruit a candidate to oppose Coakley.
The Democratic attorney general was politically weakened after her stunning loss to Scott Brown in the Jan. 19 special election for the US Senate seat that was vacated by the death of long-time US Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
The loss by Coakley, a statewide officeholder with high name recognition in a Democratic-leaning state, to Brown, a telegenic but little-known Republican senator, sent shock waves through politics nationwide and appeared to herald growing voter discontent during tough economic times.
Many analysts had expected Coakley to face strong opposition in her re-election campaign. But no Democrat emerged to challenge her in the primary and Republican overtures to several prominent lawyers fell flat. Coakley has not done much fundraising since her loss to Brown. As of Sept. 1, she had less than $500,000 in her state political account.
A graduate of Holy Cross College and Boston College Law School, McKenna was a state and federal prosecutor for 10 years. In 1998, he moved into private practice, where he has focused on civil litigation. He has also served as campaign coordinator for a Worcester district attorney campaign, as campaign chairman for a state Senate campaign, and recently served as chief legal counsel for Mary Z. Connaughton's campaign for state auditor, according to his campaign website. McKenna is married with six children.
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