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Massachusetts attorney general holds lead in governor's race: poll

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley listens to Brian T. Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America speak at the Boston College Chief Executi
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley listens to Brian T. Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America speak at the Boston College Chief Executi

BOSTON (Reuters) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley remains well ahead of her nearest Democratic primary opponent and a Republican contender in the state's race for governor, according to a poll released on Thursday.

Some 45 percent of likely Democratic primary voters said they would support Coakley, the state's top prosecutor since 2006, compared with just 14 percent for State Treasurer Steve Grossman, her nearest Democratic rival, according to the WBUR/MassINC survey.

Coakley also led Republican candidate Charlie Baker by 41 percent to 26 percent when likely voters were asked whom they would vote for if the November election were held today.

Baker, a former hospital executive and a veteran of past Republican administrations, is seen as a member of the party's more moderate wing.

Democrats outnumber Republicans about 3-to-1 among Massachusetts registered voters, but the state has elected four Republican governors since 1990, including former presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

The current governor, Deval Patrick, a Democrat, cannot run for a third term due to term limits. Other Democrats seeking the governorship include former U.S. healthcare official Donald Berwick and former Homeland Security official Juliette Kayyem.

Coakley has advocated gay marriage rights and won multimillion-dollar settlements from banks for their handling of subprime loans and other lending during her tenure as Massachusetts attorney general.

Four years ago, she lost a special U.S. Senate election to Republican Scott Brown after a campaign widely criticized as being aloof. The loss dealt a blow to the Democratic Party, which had viewed the seat as a safe win.

Brown, who lost his 2012 re-election bid, said last week that he was exploring a campaign for U.S. Senate in neighboring New Hampshire.

The telephone poll of 500 likely voters in the November election, sponsored by a local radio station, was conducted from March 14 to March 16. Some 36 percent of respondents were registered Democrats, 12 percent Republicans and 52 percent independent or unregistered.

The poll has a margin of error of 4.4 percent.

(Reporting by Daniel Lovering; Editing by Scott Malone and Jan Paschal)

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