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Coakley Continues Tour in Berkshires

Jim Levulis

Massachusetts Attorney General MarthaCoakleycontinues her statewide tour after announcing a run for Governor in 2014.

Coakley stopped in Pittsfield on the second day of her three-day tour across the state. The North Adams native and Williams College graduate greeted patrons at a downtown coffee shop and reunited with childhood friends. She stressed the need for education improvements including longer school days and economic development at the former General Electric Plant in Pittsfield. Coakley echoed Governor Deval Patrick’s efforts to strengthen infrastructure in the Berkshires, but didn’t provide specifics on how she would accomplish that.

“I know what some of the economic issues are here,” Coakley said. “I know when the economy goes south, it goes deeper here and it’s tougher for it to come back. In Berkshire County for instance the issue of good, safe, accessible transportation is a huge one as well as providing the broadband we need out here. We have the ability to make the investments in infrastructure.”

Coakley also addressed her failed 2010 Senate campaign. She lost to Republican Scott Brown in a special election to fill the Senate seat held by Democrat Ted Kennedy for nearly 50 years.

“I made some mistakes in that race," she said. "My biggest regret is that people thought I didn’t work hard. I know I have to earn the trust and respect of voters across the state and I intend to do that. I’ll be out here, not just when I’m running, but more importantly when I’m Governor.”

Coakley is citing her accomplishments as Attorney General in reducing energy and health care costs. Tommie Hutto-Blake is a member of the Democratic Berkshire Brigades. She came out to see Coakley during her visit and says she isn’t completely sold.

“I was fearful that as a candidate that she might not be able to answer the hard questions, so that issue was resolved today,” Hutto-Blake said. “But, there are some good candidates that are stepping forward and I’m going to be watching very closely.”

Donna Walto was among the dozen or so voters who welcomed Coakley to Pittsfield. She says Coakley’s loss in 2010 is not a deciding factor this time around.

“I don’t think that loss really makes that much difference," Walto said. "I like her style that she keeps coming back. I think that shows perseverance and her willingness to really want to work and help the people.”

Former state GOP Chair Jennifer Nassour says the current field of six Democratic gubernatorial candidates will hurt them.

“For the Democrats it’s going to end up being a blood bath, a shoot-out in the O.K. Corral,” said Nassour.

Berkshire County GOP Chairman Jim Bronson says Coakley and state Treasurer Steven Grossman are the top Democratic candidates.

“They’re going to spend a lot of time, even as civil as they’ll try to be, there will be things that are said about each other that will certainly cause damage,” Bronson said. “For a change, the Republicans are going to get to sit and watch the race, hone our message and watch the other side tear itself apart which we enjoy.”

Bronson says Charlie Baker, who was the Republican candidate for governor in 2010, is in a one-horse race for the party’s nomination in 2014. Meanwhile, Coakley welcomes the crowded Democratic field.

“I think we’ll have a spirited race and I know that at the end of that we’ll all work to make sure we have a Democratic Governor next time around,” said Coakley.

Coakley’s barnstorming tour continued this week with five scheduled stops, ending in Salem.

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