The Primary Numbers: The Very Model of a Modern Attorney General…
In the course of twenty-four years, Massachusetts has seen more than a few contested Democratic gubernatorial primaries. Contested primaries for attorney general are much rarer. Martha Coakley, who is retiring from the position to run for governor, had no contest in 2006. But this year, Massachusetts has been treated to a spirited and competitive primary for the office.
The contest between Maura Healey and Warren Tolman has arguably been the hottest on the ballot, pitting a scrappy civil servant against a storied icon in state politics. Once Tolman, a former state legislator and two-time statewide candidate, entered the race, it appeared he would be the heavy favorite. Healey, an assistant attorney general who ran half of the office’s bureaus, started with little entre to political circles and some doubted she would make it this far.
As this race comes to a close, we believe, in light of both candidates’ vision for and understanding of this office, that Maura Healey is the clear choice.
Let not this judgment stand as a criticism of Tolman’s political record or that of his family. Both Tolman and his brother Steven, now the state AFL-CIO president, have an admirable record of service to the commonwealth. Putting aside the concerns about Tolman’s legal practice since leaving politics in 2002, we feel attorney general is a misappropriation of his talents. You see this in Tolman’s vision for the office. Tolman wants to use it as a bully pulpit. Healey wants to effect change through building cases as “the people’s lawyer.”
However, to use the office as a bully pulpit not only misses the point, but puts it at terrible risk of losing, not gaining influence. Already some of the largest interests and best funded entities in the country spit in the face of the US government all the time. Why would those same interests or their Massachusetts chapters be any more likely cower at the attorney general simply for making a public display? If that takes precedence over the hard work of building cases, then the attorney general’s office will find quickly that its efforts are failing where they count the most—in court.
It is an ironic danger, especially as one of Tolman’s most prominent supporters exemplifies well the folly of using the bully pulpit to bring a great change without building the case before the judge and jury in that situation—the voters.
By contrast Healey realizes that for the AG to make a difference, to effect the change, to right the wrong, he or she must prepare and build the case. How does she know this? Because she has done the job. Giving up a better paying job in private practice, she worked for nearly 7 years as one of the current AG’s top deputies making progress on LGBT rights, access for the handicapped, and home foreclosures.
It will take more than a press conference to solve intractable problems such as gun violence, housing law violations, public malfeasance and more. For example, on addressing urban gun violence, a critical issue in our home base of Springfield, Healey correctly notes that the problem overwhelmingly is one about trafficking, largely from other states, not legal sales within Massachusetts. She and Tolman agree on smart triggers, but that will do nothing for existing weapons and those from over the border. Instead Healey has the drive and the understanding to know that success here, again, will depend on building cases to prosecute and discourage those who flaunting the law today, not under a regulation to be.
Healey’s passion, her pluck, and her savvy about how the attorney general’s office can improve the lives of the people of the commonwealth make her the best candidate. On September 9, vote Maura Healey for Attorney General.