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September 29, 2013

Coakley's bid for governor runs up against Lantigua investigation

(Continued)

But if the lawsuit dissolves, his supporters could feel vindicated by their man’s survival. “Then it will be the other way around,” said Rafael Guzman, a businessman and former Lantigua supporter. “It will be perceived as a witch hunt, which a lot of his supporters say now. They say people are going after him because he’s Latino. He’s playing the victim card, because that’s all he has.”

Lawrence and outside political watchers said an indictment is unlikely to shake the support of his base. “Lantigua supporters are not going to change their minds. They’re firmly in his camp,” Padova said.

Indeed, Lantigua topped the preliminary election, despite the indictment of three campaign aides, former chief of staff Leonard Degnan, campaign chief and deputy police Chief Melix Bonilla and campaign photographer Justo Garcia, on corruption charges and ongoing corruption investigations by the Essex district attorney, the FBI and Coakley’s office.

That could leave a rich pot of Democratic votes split for a primary, which currently includes, among others, state Treasurer Steve Grossman and former state Homeland Security undersecretary, Obama administration official and newspaper columnist Juliette Kayyem. And in a close general election, the loss of a few thousand votes could be costly. Few believe angry Lantigua supporters would vote for a Republican candidate, but they could decide to stay home.

But many believe the attorney general will come out best by just carrying out the responsibilities of her office. “I really think she has to perform her duties as attorney general objectively,” said state Rep. Marcos Devers, who came in third in the preliminary. “That’s going to be valued, that are looking for the truth.”

Six Democrats so far have declared their intention to run for governor, while Baker looks to have the Republican field to himself. The primary could be a scramble for cash and in an effort build an edge of a percentage point or two in a crowded race. Aside from Coakley, state Treasurer Steve Grossman and former Obama security official Juliette Kayyem are running, along with physician and Medicare official Donald Berwick and executive Joseph Avellone.

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