- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 10, 2014

BOSTON (AP) — Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley and Republican Charlie Baker are moving on to November after winning the nominations of their respective parties for governor on Tuesday.

Coakley defeated state treasurer and former Democratic party chairman Steven Grossman and former federal health care administrator Don Berwick.

Baker, the 2010 GOP nominee for governor, will get another shot at winning the governor’s office after cruising to a decisive win over Mark Fisher, a tea party-affiliated business owner. A former Harvard Pilgrim Health Care executive, Baker lost four years ago to Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick, who is not seeking re-election.

PHOTOS: Voters head to polls for Massachusetts primary

Coakley also is seeking a reversal of political fortune after her upset loss to Republican Scott Brown in the 2010 special election to succeed the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy. While that defeat led many within her party to question her effectiveness as a campaigner, she has repeatedly said that she has learned from her mistakes and will be a stronger candidate this time around.

While some pre-primary polls showed Coakley with a double-digit lead over her Democratic opponents, unofficial returns showed her winning only about 42 percent of the Democratic vote and leading Grossman by single digits.

Coakley took immediate aim at Baker, saying his economic policies would favor the rich.

Charlie Baker believes that voters won’t remember that he ran as a tea party conservative in 2010,” Coakley told supporters in her victory speech.

“We believe that voters are smart enough to see through Charlie’s superficial transformation,” she added.

Baker told supporters that he and his running mate, former state Rep. Karyn Polito, would end what he called one-party government in Massachusetts by bringing independent leadership and fiscal discipline to Massachusetts.

“Our opponents are stuck in the past,” said Baker. “They’re proposing more spending, no reforms, higher taxes, and the continuation of the status quo.”

For Baker, 57, the primary helped him reinforce his image as a fiscally cautious but socially moderate leader and gave the Swampscott resident a chance to roll out a less buttoned-down image than during his 2010 contest.

The primary also allowed Baker, who supports gay marriage and abortion rights, to pick and choose those issues where he differs most sharply with Democrats.

Coakley, 61, grew up in western Massachusetts and now lives in Medford. She would be the state’s first elected female governor if she wins in November.

She has touted her leadership as attorney general on several issues, including a national settlement with mortgage lenders over the foreclosure crisis, and her office’s successful legal challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which prevented legally married same-sex couples from obtaining certain federal benefits.

Coakley was criticized, however, for ruling that a proposed ballot question calling for repeal of the state’s casino gambling law was unconstitutional. The state Supreme Court, in a unanimous opinion, overturned Coakley’s decision and allowed the question on the ballot.

Though lukewarm in her support of casinos, Coakley has said she will vote against repealing the law, a position she shares with Baker.

Coakley will be paired with Stephen Kerrigan, a onetime aide to Kennedy, in the November election after Kerrigan defeated two other candidates in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor.

Coakley will need to replenish her campaign coffers for the run against Baker. By the end of August she had spent down her campaign funds to below $200,000, while Baker reported nearly $1.2 million in his campaign account.

Grossman, a former Democratic National Committee chairman, was making his second bid for governor, while Berwick, who formerly headed Medicare in the Obama administration, was making his first run for elective office. Both pledged to strongly support Coakley in November.

There will also be three independent candidates on the ballot: Jeff McCormick, a venture capitalist from Boston; Scott Lively, a Springfield minister; and Evan Falchuk of Newton, who is running under the banner of the United Independent Party.

Turnout appeared sluggish around the state.

In Boston, city elections officials reported that only about 12 percent of eligible voters had turned out as of 6 p.m.

At a polling place in Somerville, a number of voters said no particular issue had brought them out for this election.

“I always vote,” said Paul Guglietta, who cast his ballot in the Republican primary for Baker.

“If you don’t vote, you can’t complain,” said Dave Delano, after he and his wife, Denise, cast Democratic ballots for Grossman.


Associated Press writer Philip Marcelo contributed to this report.

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