POLITICS

Three Massachusetts Democrats To Compete In Gubernatorial Primary

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley speaks to the media outside the US Supreme Court following oral arguments in th
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley speaks to the media outside the US Supreme Court following oral arguments in the case of McCullen v. Coakley, dealing with a Massachusetts law imposing a 35-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics for demonstrations and protests, in Washington, DC, January 15, 2014. An anti-abortion protestor, Eleanor McCullen of Newton, Massachusetts, argues that the 2007 state law restricts her free speech rights under the First Amendment, while the state and Planned Parenthood argue they provide protection for individuals going to the clinics and provide a way to maintain public safety. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

By Jim Finkle

Boston, June 14 (Reuters) - Massachusetts Democrats nominated state Attorney General Martha Coakley, state Treasurer Steven Grossman and former U.S. health care official Donald Berwick to run against each other in the state's September primary for the governor's race.

The winner will run against a Republican in November to succeed Democrat Deval Patrick, who is stepping down after two terms running the liberal-leaning state.

Coakley, who lost a 2010 U.S. Senate race to Republican Scott Brown in a major upset, holds a 49 percent to 14 percent lead over Grossman in a Boston Globe poll of state voters conducted in early June.

But she is less popular with party insiders who were voting at Saturday's convention, owing to lingering disappointment with her campaign effort against Brown for the Senate seat that opened up when popular, long-serving Democrat Ted Kennedy died.

Coakley acknowledged those sentiments in a Saturday speech to delegates that was broadcast on New England Cable News.

"The 2010 Senate election was very painful for a lot of people in this room," she said. "I understand how much of your heart and soul was in that race. Mine too."

Coakley came in second on Saturday with 23.3 percent of votes cast, the Boston Globe reported, well behind Grossman's 35.2 percent. Berwick trailed with 22.1 percent.

Grossman has championed liberal issues including raising the minimum wage and told delegates: "I want to be known as the progressive job creator."

While Democrats outnumber Republicans about 3-to-1 among registered voters, the state has elected four Republicans as governor since 1990, including 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Former healthcare executive Charles Baker is the front-runner in September's Republican primary, but faces a challenge from Tea Party candidate, businessman Mark Fisher. (Editing by Chris Michaud and Robert Birsel)

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