Democrat Maura Healey posts lopsided win over Republican John Miller in state attorney general's race


Originally posted on

By Jack Flynn

BOSTON - Preserving her party’s grip on the attorney general’s office, Democrat Maura Healey cruised to victory Tuesday night over Republican challenger John B. Miller.

By a wide margin, Healey won the right to succeed current Attorney General Martha Coakley, her mentor and former boss, as the state's top law enforcement officer.

The Associated Press declared Healey the winner late Tuesday with 63 percent of the vote to 39 percent for Miller.

Healey's win extends the Democratic Party’s three-decade monopoly over the attorney general’s office. Dating back to the election of Robert H. Quinn in 1975, the past six attorney generals have been Democrats.

During a victory celebration in Boston, the candidate thanked her campaign staff, volunteers, family and Coakley for their support and inspiration.

"You believed in me. You poured your hearts into this campaign. You gave your voices to this campaign and you gave your votes to this campaign," she said.

She also thanked her opponent. "I spoke with John earlier tonight. It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there. Thank you, John, for running in this race with me," she said.

With the governor’s race and casino referendum on the statewide ballot, the battle for attorney general was a relatively low profile affair, featuring two candidates who never sought statewide office before.

Healey, a Charlestown resident, cast herself as an activist attorney general, championing civil rights and public advocacy issues in the style of Coakley. Before resigning last year to run for office, the veteran prosecutor served as chief of the office’s civil rights, public protection and business and labor bureaus.

By contrast Miller, a specialist in public contract and construction law, said his job would be enforcing state laws, not advocating for them. In a surprise move, Miller announced early in the campaign that he would resign from the Republican Party if elected to ensure the office’s non-partisanship.

The candidates’ opposing views were on display during an Oct. 29 debate when Healey declared that the U.S. Supreme Court had gone too far in its 2008 decision establishing individual gun ownership rights.

In response, Miller said those rights are enshrined in the state and federal Constitution.

They also clashed on the Hobby Lobby decision, in which the Supreme Court decided that some privately held for-profit companies could not be required to provide insurance coverage for birth control if they had religious objections.

Miller said the case was so narrowly tailored that it did not create a precedent while Healey said the ruling eroded women’s right to contraception coverage.

Miller, a Winchester resident, was considered a longshot in Tuesday's election, just as Healey was an underdog in the September primary against former state Sen. Warren Tolman. But surprising even her own supporters, Healey rolled to victory by a 62.4 percent to 37.6 percent margin.

Tolman had received endorsements of top state Democrats, including Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, while Healey, the first publicly gay person elected to statewide office in Massachusetts, cultivated support among women’s and gay rights groups.

The daughter of a nurse and engineer, Healey was born in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire, and graduated from Harvard before playing two years as a starting point guard for a European professional basketball team.

She graduated from Northeastern University School of Law and worked in private practice and as a special assistant district attorney in Middlesex County before joining Coakley's staff as an assistant attorney general.

Along with Coakley and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Healey appeared in Amherst Saturday to rally support for Democratic candidates.

During her speech Tuesday night, she promised to take on a range of issues, from gun violence and heroin and opiate abuse to predatory for-profit schools.

"As attorney general, I will be your lawyer and your advocate. But I can’t do it alone," she said.

"We are going to need everyone in this room and across this state to keep standing up and speaking out on the issues that matter," she added.

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