BOSTON — Political newcomer Maura Healey, a former state assistant prosecutor seeking to become the first openly gay state attorney general in the nation, captured the Democratic nomination for the Massachusetts office on Tuesday, following a hard-fought primary against a veteran state lawmaker.
The 43-year-old Charlestown resident defeated former state Sen. Warren Tolman of Watertown.
Healey successfully argued the state's case to overturn the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which critics said prevented legally married gay couples in Massachusetts from obtaining certain federal benefits. She now faces Republican John Miller in the November election.
If elected, Healey would also become the first openly gay female to hold a statewide office in Massachusetts. Current state Attorney General Martha Coakley is running for governor.
At her campaign rally Tuesday night in downtown Boston, Healey highlighted her underdog status and her seven years in the attorney general's office.
"Eleven months ago when we started this campaign, it's true I had never done this before, and I knew we were underdogs facing some tough odds," she said. "I was new to canvassing, knocking on doors and campaigning. I wasn't new, though, to the work of the attorney general."
In his concession speech, Tolman, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2002 and for lieutenant governor in 1998, pledged to support Healey in the campaign ahead.
Healey ran a spirited campaign against a better-financed opponent with strong ties to organized labor and Democratic state politics.
A basketball star at Harvard University who later played professionally in Austria, she campaigned largely as the non-establishment candidate.
Healey, who holds a law degree from Northeastern University, called for repeal of the state's casino gambling law, a position that put her at odds with Tolman and a number of other Democratic leaders.
The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and EMILY's List, which helps elect pro-choice Democratic female candidates, were among the groups that endorsed her.
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