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Coakley wins re-election; Quixotic challenge by Millbury's McKenna fails.

Byline: Martin Luttrell

MILLBURY - James P. McKenna was hoping political lightning would strike Martha Coakley a second time, but despite an impressive start to his campaign for state attorney general, Mr. McKenna lost in his bid to unseat the Democratic incumbent yesterday.

The first-time Millbury Republican candidate phoned Ms. Coakley around 9:30 last night to concede and to congratulate her, he said. The Associated Press reported at 9:30 p.m. that Ms. Coakley was leading 63 percent to 37 percent with nearly half the state's votes tallied.

"I congratulated her, and I thanked her for running as clean a campaign as I've seen," Mr. McKenna said. "She spoke of how our lives will get back to normal. During the campaign I pointed out how we differ on policy issues. Both sides did a commendable job of avoiding personal attacks."

Ms. Coakley could not be reached for comment last night.

"One reason why people may not step forward to run is a concern over negative attack ads," Mr. McKenna said from his post-election celebration at the American Legion post in Sutton. "The fact that that did not happen is very encouraging for the process.

"During the campaign many voters talked with me in terms of immigration and public corruption. At least half thanked me for running, for giving them a choice. Many recognized the odds here were long."

Ms. Coakley, who was initially thought to be a shoo-in to succeed the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, lost in a major upset to Republican Scott P. Brown in January, and the state Republican party saw her as vulnerable in her bid for re-election to a four-year term as the state's top law enforcement official.

And when Mr. McKenna ran a write-in campaign as a political unknown to get on the Republican ballot in the September primary, he garnered 27,711 signatures when only 10,000 were needed.

Mr. McKenna, who has a private law practice, quickly launched his campaign, attacking the Democratic incumbent and saying that it was time to restore public faith in government. During campaign stops and debates, he said he would put the "enforcement back in law enforcement," pledging to do a better job of prosecuting public corruption and illegal immigration than his opponent.

Ms. Coakley, of Medford, campaigned on her record of prosecuting white collar crime, stopping unfair business practices and protecting consumers from high energy and insurance costs. In 1998, she was elected Middlesex district attorney, and served for eight years before defeating Republican Larry Frisoli to succeed Thomas F. Reilly as attorney general in 2006.

She was endorsed by several newspapers, as well as the Massachusetts Police Association, the Massachusetts Coalition of Police, the State Police Association of Massachusetts and the State Police Superior Officers Association.

Mr. McKenna, a former prosecutor in Worcester and Suffolk counties, served for six years as an assistant district attorney in the Worcester district attorney's office, which included two years as supervisor of the grand jury unit. He began his work as a prosecutor by serving in the Civil Division of the Franklin County, Ohio, prosecuting attorney's office

He won endorsements from Sen. Brown, the Worcester Police Department's two unions, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, and from Tom Ridge, former governor of Pennsylvania and secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Mr. McKenna made a last round of greeting voters at polling locations starting at 7:30 a.m. He and his wife, Katie Lavallee, voted at Millbury High School in the afternoon before he made some calls to radio talk shows around the state.


CUTLINE: Attorney General Martha Coakley celebrates her re-election last night with her husband, Thomas F. O'Connor, at a victory party in Boston.

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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Nov 3, 2010
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