Coakley coasting to easy win in Mass. Senate Dem. primary

The Associated Press has declared Coakley the winner of the Democratic primary in Massachusetts’s special election on Tuesday.

Coakley bested a field of three Democrats with 48 percent of the vote and 48 percent of precincts reporting. Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) was second with 27 percent, Boston Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca had 13 percent and City Year founder Alan Khazei had 13 percent.

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Coakley will face state Sen. Scott Brown in the general election. Brown led perennial candidate Jack E. Robinson 88-12 in the GOP primary.

Brown is not expected to give Coakley too tough of a challenge in the most Democratic state in the union. He raised a modest $470,000 as of mid-November, compared to more than $4 million for Coakley.

Polling showed Coakley led the race for the Democratic nomination from the outset, building her campaign prior to Kennedy’s death in August and beginning the race three months ago as the only candidate with a statewide profile and campaign operation.

Capuano was seen as her top competition for the seat when he emerged as the lone member of the state’s congressional delegation to run for the seat. In the end, though, it appeared that he was hurt by the presence of Pagliuca and Khazei.

By beating the field of three men, Coakley set herself up to become the first woman elected to the Senate from the state. She is already one of just four women ever elected statewide there.

Coakley benefited from a late endorsement from former President Bill Clinton, and in the end no member of the Kennedy family endorsed any of the other candidates.

Capuano did get the backing of former Gov. Michael Dukakis (D) late in the campaign, and he also had most of the state’s congressional delegation behind him. In the end, though, it appears expanding his ground game across the state in just three months was too tall a task.

Capuano raised more than $2 million and transferred another $1.2 million from his House account, Khazei raised more than $2 million, and Pagliuca spent heavily on the race from his fortune, self-funding more than $5.4 million of his own money and raising another $560,000.

Few major issue differences formed during the campaign, though Pagliuca did separate himself a bit by supporting a healthcare bill that included restrictions on abortion funding. Coakley and Capuano said the restriction was a deal-breaker.

The special election between Brown and Coakley is set for Jan. 19.