By Colleen Quinn
State House News Service
---- — BOSTON — Attorney General Martha Coakley said last week she does not plan to run for governor or a Senate seat, and intends to run for reelection as the state’s top prosecutor.
Coakley, speaking to a group of newspaper publishers, was asked if she was ruling out a potential run for both seats. “Right now, today, at this microphone, yes.”
“We don’t even know if there is a Senate seat,” she added.
Coakley, whose name has been tossed around as a potential 2014 gubernatorial candidate, said she loves the job she has and intends to keep doing it. “If you are a lawyer, this is a great job,” she said.
If she runs again, it would be her third run for attorney general. Speculation has swirled since President Barack Obama’s reelection this month that Sen. John Kerry will be appointed to a senior post in Obama’s administration, which would put Kerry’s seat up for grabs in 2013.
“Races are expensive. They are tough. They are hard. That is a personal decision I will make. Right now. I am really happy with what I am doing,” Coakley told the crowd gathered at Anthony’s Pier 4.
Later, when speaking to reporters, Coakley did not entirely rule out a race for governor, saying right now she is focused on her current job.
“I want to stay focused on that,” she said, adding the governor’s race is two years away. “It is a long way away from today.”
With Gov. Deval Patrick planning to move on after the end of his second term, state Treasurer Steven Grossman and Lt. Gov. Tim Murray are considering whether to run for governor as Democrats in 2014.
Coakley also said that each race is different and dynamics change.
A former Middlesex County district attorney, Coakley has two more years left on her second four-year term as attorney general. In 2009, she emerged as the frontrunner to win the seat long held by Sen. Edward Kennedy, but lost the January 2010 special election to Sen. Scott Brown. Brown in turn lost that seat this month when Democrat Elizabeth Warren defeated him.
The battle with Brown left Coakley bruised, with many wondering if she had a political future.
“I thought I could be a good senator, but the voters said otherwise,” Coakley said when asked by newspaper publishers about her political intentions.
Coakley said she committed herself to the AG spot and feels there is still a lot of work left to do. After losing the Senate seat, she has spent the last two years rebuilding her reputation, taking aggressive postures on several issues, including efforts to reform state foreclosure laws, make human trafficking illegal in Massachusetts and take on campaign finance and ethics violations by public officials.
In her speech to the publishers, Coakley lamented that elected officials too often focus on the next campaign rather than doing the jobs they’re elected to do.
“Moreso than ever, people focus on the next campaign. Not the job,” Coakley said. “We know the damage that gets done when people are always running for reelection or the next thing.”
This is not the first time Coakley has publicly stated her intentions to run for reelection as attorney general. In April, she said she would seek a third term.
“Right now, first of all my focus is on doing my job. Secondly, my intent would be to run for reelection,” she told the News Service after an event at Suffolk University.
Coakley, the first woman elected attorney general in Massachusetts, has won four races and lost two, including her bid for Senate and a race for state representative in 1997 won by Rep. Martin Walsh of Dorchester.
The constant election cycle creates a barrier to elected officials governing, Coakley said. She remarked about how expensive, long and bitter some battles get, pointing out the Brown and Warren campaigns spent more money than the Bush-Gore presidential race in 2000, and the Obama-Romney race cost more than $2 billion.
Coakley admitted she was not immune from campaign pitfalls, acknowledging that in her race against Brown both sides spent “enormous” amounts of money in a very short period of time for the special election.
“It is nothing new. It is part of what we all love to watch. We all get engaged in those adversarial races. The problem is the seeming inability for the parties to come back to do what they have been elected to do and that is to govern,” she said.
“How many cliffs, fiscal or otherwise, do we have to manage before we start building bridges?”.