Coakley calls for three-way Senate debates

Chris Rizo Dec. 13, 2009, 12:01am

Martha Coakley (D)

Scott Brown (R)

BOSTON (Legal Newsline)-U.S. Senate hopeful Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley wants to debate both of her opponents before the state's Jan. 19 special general election, the Democrat's campaign said.

On Tuesday, the popular attorney general won the Democratic nomination to succeed the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, who held the post for 47 years before his death from brain cancer.

Coakley handily beat out U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca and City Year co-founder Alan Khazei for the Democratic nomination.

In the general election, Coakley will face Republican state Sen. Scott Brown and Libertarian candidate Joseph Kennedy, who is no relation to the late senator.

"We do not understand Scott Brown's hesitation to debate both of his opponents, and urge him to engage in these debates with all the candidates to help voters make an informed, clear choice in January," Coakley spokesman Alex Zaroulis said Saturday.

In her 2006 race for attorney general, Coakley refused to debate her Republican opponent, Cambridge lawyer Larry Frisoli, whom she eventually beat with 73 percent of the vote.

Given that Massachusetts is a solidly Democratic state, with only 11 percent of Bay State voters registered as Republicans, Coakley is heavily favored to win the January special election.

If Coakley, 56, wins the Senate seat, she would be the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts. She would also become the 18th woman sitting in the 100-member U.S. Senate.

Coakley was elected state attorney general in 2006. She began her legal career in 1979, practicing with two Boston law firms before joining the Middlesex District Attorney's Office in 1986.

She worked as a special attorney on the Boston Organized Crime Strike Force and later ran the Child Abuse Prosecution Unit for the district attorney's office. She was elected district attorney in 1998.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at

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