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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

On to the final

In the end, the only real surprise on the night that Martha Coakley vanquished her Democratic rivals for the Democratic US Senate nomination is that 11 percent of voters in the Republican primary thought Jack E. Robinson was a qualified candidate for anything.

And while Democrats are saying and doing all the right things regarding the potential threat offered by Republican nominee Scott Brown, the real interest among political junkies will be what happens after the Jan. 19 final election.

That's when House Speaker Robert DeLeo gets to handpick the person who will serve as attorney general until he or she gets to run as an incumbent next fall. And given the most recent disclosure of the House's inability to get it, it's a frightening prospect for the Commonwealth.

Start with the fact that Coakley appears to have not only broken a glass ceiling but also a courtroom one. She is the first Massachusetts attorney general since Edward Brooke to actually win a race for higher elective office.

Many factors can go into that dubious distinction, but AG's office doesn't usually win friends and influence people in the Legislature. After all they prosecute things like public corruption.

You need look no farther than former Speaker Tom Finneran -- the middle of the three indicted speakers -- who went a long way to torpedo Scott Harshbarger's gubernatorial bid by labeling the then-AG a member of the "loony left."

So the speculation is rife over who DeLeo will appoint to warm the seat -- and who will challenge that incumbent in the primary. One of the more interesting names to emerge has been that of Secretary of State Bill Galvin, who was a prominent if subterranean member of the House for many years before moving on to his current job.

Would DeLeo reward a friend looking to end a career with what amounts to an interim appointment (and a better pension) to back a House alum? Or will he reward a member of his leadership team with a plum?

The one thing I suspect won't play a deciding factor is the appointees legal skills.

So while all eyes (OK, maybe a handful) are focused on the Senate campaign between Coakley and Brown, the real attention will be on the backroom jockeying for the office with the great views at One Ashburton Place.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

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