Sources with direct knowledge have told NBC10 Boston political reporter Alison King that Democratic Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has decided to run for governor and an announcement is expected Thursday.
Healey, 50, was first elected the state's attorney general in 2014 after years working under former Attorney General Martha Coakley as chief of the office's Civil Rights Division, its Public Protection and Advocacy Bureau and its Business and Labor Bureau.
Should Healey run, she would become the race's presumptive frontrunner due to a number of advantages.
“I think if you had to put your money on someone, you’d probably put it on Maura Healey," King said. "People know her name in this state because she’s been around for eight years. She has a 3.7 million dollar war chest which is formidable, which her opponents will struggle to come anywhere near.”
Healey became the first woman and openly gay person elected attorney general in 2014. She would also become the state's first governor of such qualities, if elected.
The New Hampshire native and Harvard College grad played professional basketball overseas and worked in the AG's office seven years before running to lead it.
Healey's targeting of corporate giants is messaging that King expects to be delivered on the campaign trail.
“She’ll talk about the success she had going after Purdue Pharma, the manufacturers of OxyContin. She will talk about her success with Exxon Mobile and the issues that they had relative to climate change,” King predicted.
Healey was also involved in a number of legal proceedings involving the Trump administration, including the deportations of DACA dreamers.
“She’s also gone after Donald Trump successfully so I think that if you put that all together, those are all avenues that will work well for her,” King noted.
The race for governor was blown wide open by incumbent Republican Gov. Charlie Baker's announcement late last year that he would not seek a third term.
So far, only two Democratic candidates -- Harvard professor Danielle Allen and state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz -- have publicly announced they are running. Ben Downing recently bowed out of the race.
Allen reacted to news of Healey's run Wednesday night by saying the state needs a "fresh perspective" in the governor's seat.
“This election is about the urgent challenges we’re facing — from the pandemic, to the climate crisis, to racial injustice, to the strains on our democracy. Every single day, in every community in Massachusetts, people are struggling with the impacts of these challenges. So status quo is not an option. We need a fresh perspective that can see beyond the politics and start bringing us together to build solutions," Allen wrote.
"I’m in this race — and I’ve been in it for a year — to make sure Massachusetts has a real choice. A choice between a perspective ready to meet the moment and business as usual. And a choice between the narrow solutions our politics have been offering us, or a chance to reimagine the possible, and bring everyone to the table to find a path forward that empowers all of us," she added.
Republican Geoff Diehl is also seeking the governor's office.
Pundits told NBC10 Boston last month that they think Healey would be the frontrunner if she got into the race.
"Of the Democrats, she's the best possible choice they have," Boston University professor Tom Whalen said.
But UMass Boston professor Erin O'Brien said Healey would face obstacles.
"I don't think it's a cakewalk for Maura Healey," she said, noting that she would be the most moderate of the very progressive Democratic candidates. While that would play well for her in the general election, it might not help her as much in the primary.
Attorneys general running for governor have had little success in Massachusetts. The last time it was pulled off by Paul Dever in the 1940s.
Another possible candidate who could match Healey's fundraising numbers is former Boston mayor and now U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, who is also said to be considering a run.
Walsh began the year with $5.1 million in his campaign account, compared to more than $3.6 million for Healey.
Allen and state Chang-Diaz had far less. Allen reported $370,000. Chang-Diaz reported 250,000.
Diehl had more than $104,000.