BY STEVE LeBLANC
---- — BOSTON (AP) — A one-time professional basketball player who is the former top deputy for state Attorney General Martha Coakley has become the first candidate to formally announce a run for the top law enforcement post, one of the most coveted in the state.
Maura Healey, a 42-year-old Democrat who resigned last week to launch her campaign, said yesterday that she wants to carry on the office’s legacy.
Healey said she was confident that her “passion, her vision and her energy for the office” makes her the best candidate. She pointed to her work in areas like environmental protection, civil rights and as a key player in the state’s challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which denied federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples.
If elected, Healey said she would continue to focus on those and other issues, including fighting against escalating health care costs and protecting businesses and individual taxpayers by ensuring everyone is playing by the rules.
Healey is a novice candidate who is little known to voters, a hurdle she acknowledged she’ll have to overcome.
“As a first time candidate I have my work cut out for me,” she said. “I’m anxious to get out there and to meet people, to talk with people, to listen to people and to work very hard over the next year.”
Coakley, a Democrat, has announced that she’ll run for governor rather than seek re-election to a third term as attorney general next year.
So far, no one else has announced their candidacy for the office, although state Rep. Harold Naughton, a Clinton Democrat, is also expected to formally jump into the race this week.
Several would-be candidates have already said they’re not interested in the job, including Bristol District Attorney Samuel Sutter, state Secretary William Galvin and Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley.
In making her initial campaign pitch, Healey pointed to her work leading two divisions within the attorney general’s office overseeing sectors dealing with business and labor as well as public protection and advocacy. She said that has given her the administrative experience to lead the entire office.
Other Democrats mentioned as possible attorney general candidates include Lowell state Sen. Eileen Donoghue and former state Sen. Warren Tolman.
On the Republicans side, Gloucester state Sen. Bruce Tarr, former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan and Peter Flaherty, a former prosecutor and adviser to former Gov. Mitt Romney, are all possible attorney general candidates.