BOSTON — Republican Michael Sullivan was born one of seven children to a Boston Irish family, leaving college to take a job on the factory floor of a local razor company.
But Sullivan was also determined to get ahead, eventually reaching the upper echelons of law enforcement, serving as district attorney, U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, and director of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Along the way he would help investigate both the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the failed attempt to blow up an airliner using shoe bombs.
Now Sullivan, one of three Republican candidates in Massachusetts’ special U.S. Senate election, is trying to convince GOP voters he’s the true conservative in the race.
The 58-year-old Sullivan was born in Boston’s rough-and-tumble South End to one of just two Irish Catholic families on his street. His father worked for the phone company and his mother worked part-time as a waitress. The family soon moved to the suburbs.
Sullivan attended Boston College, but left after a year to take a job at the Gillette razor company — a “temporary job” that lasted 16 years.
As he climbed the corporate ranks, Sullivan kept his eyes on another dream, finishing college and getting his law degree from Suffolk University in 1993.
“At some point during the course of my career at Gillette, I really decided I wanted to run for public office,” he said.
He left the company in 1989, opening a small law practice in Holbrook and running for state representative. He was elected in 1990 and re-elected in 1992 and 1994.
When the Plymouth County district attorney died in 1995, former Republican Gov. William Weld tapped Sullivan. He was elected to fill out the rest of the term in 1996 and re-elected in 1998.
“I found the work extremely professionally challenging and rewarding like none other than I’d done up to that point,” Sullivan said.