One Day To Go In Massachusetts Senate Primary; Bill Clinton Backs Coakley

The four Democrats vying for their party's Senate nomination in Massachusetts have one more day to make their case. The Boston Globe focuses on their efforts to woo undecided voters in tomorrow's primary.

But if the polls are to be believed, state Attorney General Martha Coakley is going to win. She has been hit for running a safe, cautious, campaign; some have called it pabulum. But whatever she's doing, it seems to be working. Her rivals — Rep. Michael Capuano, Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca and national service program founder Alan Khazei — are doing what they can to stand out and draw distinctions with her, but are all thought to be trailing by double digits.

She has been picking up the most significant endorsements, including that of Bill Clinton, who recorded a telephone message that will be robo'ed out to 500,000 voters. (You can hear the Clinton message here.)

Also on the Coakley bandwagon: feminist Gloria Steinem and state Auditor Joe DeNucci.

The Hello Ladies blog saw the Steinem endorsement "exciting and significant":

It is yet another example that Coakley is not afraid of gender. Other women candidates often feel pressure to downplay women's rights for fear of being seen as "just" a woman's candidate. On the flip side, if they talk tough or wear pantsuits instead of skirts, they are criticized for being a "woman acting like a man." Coakley is simply running on her track record and the important issues, one of which is women's rights. Her opponents aren't trying to hide the fact they are men and she's not hiding the fact she is a woman.

Of course, not everyone is impressed. John Carroll, in the Campaign Outsider blog, recently wrote of Coakley's "Joyless Pursuit of a U.S. Senate seat":

The lack-of-personality profiles just keep piling up.

Latest entry: Adrian Walker's Boston Globe Metro column headlined "A charisma shortage." It describes Coakley as stiff, mechanical, and devoid of sizzle.

Me, I just call Coakley bloodless.

Exhibit A: This passage from Walker's piece:

When I asked what she thought would be most challenging in moving from attorney general to senator, Coakley's response was mildly surprising. "I think the transition from district attorney to attorney general was a much bigger transition,'' she said.

Mildly surprising? That's downright dismissable out of hand, as was Coakley's response at the start of the fix-is-in-for-Mike-Capuano Senate primary debate last month, in which Coakley claimed she first thought of running for Ted Kennedy's vacant Senate seat right after the Big Guy died.

Puh-leeze. Coakley has been planning this run ever since Kennedy called in sick two years ago.

Martha Coakley can ignore reality all she wants. Massachusetts voters shouldn't.

In his review of the race, Fred Thys of member station WBUR writes (on wbur.org) that Capuano says he's in a statistical tie with Coakley:

"Bottom line is, I think where we want to be. We're within the margin of error, is my belief, and it's really mostly about getting the vote out and doing the last couple of things in the last couple of days."

The so-called "dealbreaker" in the race — an endorsement from either Victoria Reggie Kennedy, Sen. Kennedy's widow, or Ted's nephew, former Rep. Joe Kennedy — is not happening. There has been widespread media speculation that the Kennedy family was not pleased that Coakley announced her candidacy within a week of the senator's death last August. But neither Vicki nor Joe is about to get involved.

Other Kennedys have, as noted by Jessica Van Sack in today's Boston Herald. Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the late President Kennedy, appeared at a Khazei fundraiser in New York last month. Max Kennedy, a son of the late Robert Kennedy, endorsed Khazei. Stephen Smith Jr., son of Ted's sister Jean Kennedy Smith, backs Capuano. And one of Ted's sons, Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), while not endorsing anyone, called Capuano a "fighter for working people" at a press conference last week.

Oh yes, there is also a Republican primary tomorrow. State Sen. Scott Brown, backed by the party establishment, is a heavy favorite over Jack Robinson II, who was the GOP nominee against Kennedy in 2000.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. The two primary winners then meet in the general election on Jan. 19.

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