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September 29, 2013

Coakley's bid for governor runs up against Lantigua investigation

LAWRENCE — The 2014 gubernatorial race now taking shape creates some sticky politics around the state investigation into Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua, who easily cleared a crowded field in the preliminary election for mayor last week.

Attorney General Martha Coakley, whose office is among those investigating Lantigua, risks alienating Lantigua supporters in Lawrence in a close election against a candidate like Charlie Baker, who did well in the Merrimack Valley against Deval Patrick in 2010.

Lawrence is an overwhelmingly Democratic city, and its voters could be crucial in a crowded party primary and in a close general election. Political watchers are split on how an aggressive lawsuit would play out among the city’s voters, who themselves are split over whether to give the controversial mayor a second term and largely have staked out their positions on turf that likely would not shift after a judgement in a recently-filed lawsuit.

“It’s a little delicate situation there, but I think in the end she’ll come out of it fine,” said Richard Padova, a professor of history and government at Northern Essex Community College.

A campaign spokesman for Coakley said that political calculations are not part of any investigation.

“It is Martha’s job to call things as she sees them and to uphold the law – politics can’t and doesn’t play a role,” the spokesman, Kyle Sullivan, said. “In her race for governor, Martha is going to fight for an economic recovery that includes everybody – not just a fortunate few – and public schools that give all our kids a chance to succeed. That is the case she will make to the people of Lawrence and voters across Massachusetts.”

Baker’s campaign said it did not want to get involved in Democratic party politics. “Charlie is focused on his campaign to create jobs, deliver a great education for every kid and foster stronger, safer communities, not on the other party’s crowded primary,” Baker spokesman Tim Buckley said.

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