Curse of the AG’s office

Last spring, I noted that it’s not easy being Attorney General, particularly if you are interested in moving on to higher office.  Can Martha Coakley beat the curse of the AG?

If you put that question to a jury, I suspect they’d deadlock.

My colleague Professor Cunningham has a great post this morning on the Cahill prosecution.  And I noted in today’s Globe that a hung jury is not the same as a not guilty verdict.  That fact alone may help Coakley overcome the damage to her office’s reputation as a result of the Cahill case.

Tim Cahill still has a few allies in the state, particularly in vote-rich Quincy, but by bolting the Democratic party and attempting to defeat Deval Patrick in 2010, he likely earned more institutional enmity than Coakley did by her criminal indictment.

The last Attorney General to move on to higher office was Ed Brooke and that was for federal office.  There’d be a battle for Quincy if the Governor appointed Coakley to John Kerry’s Senate seat.  Brown took 53% of the vote in Quincy in the low turnout special election of 2010 while Elizabeth Warren took 54% in the much higher turnout race of 2012.

Cahill’s forces would most certainly work to keep Coakley off-balance in Quincy but that may be largely irrelevant to her success.  Despite her loss to Brown in January 2010 and while her political obituaries were being written, the Republicans failed to seriously challenge her reelection that fall and she has gone on to improve her standing with Massachusetts voters since.

One way for Coakley to beat the curse is to continue her beat the drum that she pursued this case to maintain the integrity of her office and the integrity of the laws.  Going after political corruption is always a winner with the general public.  The question is whether she has harmed her ability to attract the resources, organization, and institutional support within the party to mount a race for Governor or Senate in the very near future.

A Senate run seems more reasonable to me though the specter of another Brown-Coakley race may give the chill to just enough Democrats to convince the Governor not to make the appointment.  But an incumbent Senator Coakley in 2013 with a still energized Democratic party behind her will be a tougher opponent for the GOP than the Attorney General who seemed to barely contest the 2010 special.

About Peter Ubertaccio

Peter Ubertaccio is the Director of Joseph Martin Institute for Law & Society at Stonehill College in Easton and Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science & International Studies. His work focuses on political parties, marketing and institutions. He received his Ph.D. in Politics from Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. Professor Ubertaccio and his family live on Cape Cod where he is on the Board of Directors of the OpenCape Corporation and the Sandwich Economic Initiative Corporation.
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2 Responses to Curse of the AG’s office

  1. Pingback: Headlines for Friday, December 14, 2012 » MASSterList

  2. Carolyn Gritter says:

    A hung jury is not an acquittal. This case was tried under a new law with no case law background. Why should the AG’s office be tarnished for pursuing a case under a law enacted to address political corruption in a climate where the public is tired of such chicanery? That she brought the case should signal officeholders that there is a line they cross at their peril. As for Cahill, he can go quietly away. It’s too bad Scott Brown won’t do the same.

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