MEDFORD — With a broad smile, Attorney General Martha Coakley walked into Dempsey’s Breakfast & Lunch this morning to greet diners and launch her campaign for the Democratic nomination for governor.
“How are you? Martha Coakley,” she said, introducing herself. “Did you have breakfast or are you just having coffee?” Coakley asked Medford resident Peter Antonellis.
The crowd was friendly. Before she came in, Bill Murphy, a Democrat from Medford, was sitting at a table in the diner reading a newspaper.
“I’m going to vote for her,” he said. “Local lady, hard worker.”
After making her way through the diner followed by a handful of TV cameras and a gaggle of reporters, Coakley spoke to the gathered press.
“I think that I am ready to both lead and listen to people in Massachusetts about what they want. I know they want to continue moving the economy forward, giving people economic opportunity, improving our educational system,” she said. “I’m going to do that as governor.”
Coakley said she had learned from her 2010 US Senate special election loss.
“Look, we’ve acknowledged, I’ve acknowledged that we made mistakes on that campaign trail and I’ve learned from that,” Coakley said. “I got right back to work in the AG’s office; I got right back out shaking hands and meeting people in order to run for Attorney General.”
“I know it’s going to be a long hard, primary. I welcome that,” she said of the governor’s race.
Beyond politics, she also addressed some issues of policy, saying it was “good news” that Beacon Hill appeared poised to repeal a controversial tax on computer software services.
“Look, people make mistakes. I know that. The key is: Do you recognize that? Do you learn from it and turn it around?” she said. “And, Massachusetts it seems, is going to be able to change that around in this instance and I think learn a lesson going forward.”
Before she met with the voters in person, Coakley had already posted a video about her pursuit of the Democratic nomination on her website and on YouTube.
In it, Coakley tried to shake the perception from her devastating 2010 Senate loss that she is aloof. The footage shows her out and about with voters, shaking hands on street corners, and in MBTA stations and coffee shops.
“You know, a lot of folks say politics is tough and it can be,” she says in the video. “I know what it’s like to lose a race. I know how hard that is. But you know what, it’s nothing compared to what so many people go through every day in their lives.”
The two-minute video features images from different pockets of Massachusetts, and of Coakley interacting with voters, as the Medford Democrat’s voiceover strikes a populist theme. Paying tribute to “ordinary people with extraordinary courage,” including cops, teachers, hospital workers, and adult children caring for their parents, Coakley said she would fight for them.
“If you see them the way I see them, you can’t help but be inspired by them. These folks are the reason I’m running for governor. They need someone who will fight for them, someone who will take their side,” Coakley said.
“After some tough years, this state is ready to take off,” she said.
Following her 2010 loss to Scott Brown, Coakley was roundly criticized for running too timid a campaign, an error she seems determined not to repeat.
After her announcement today in Medford, Coakley plans a three-day, 18-community tour.
That technique appears designed to contrast not only with her own electoral past, but with the rollout technique adopted this year by Republican Charles D. Baker, who announced with a video shot in his backyard and with press availabilities.
Coakley joins a crowded Democratic primary already inhabited by Treasurer Steven Grossman, former Globe op-ed columnist and one-time homeland security official Juliette Kayyem, former Obama administration health care official Donald M. Berwick, and biotechnology executive Joseph Avellone. State senator Dan Wolf has suspended his campaign while dealing with conflict-of-interest questions stemming from his ownership stake in Cape Air.