Impartial Justice Will Make Us Honest

maura

Photograph by David Yellen

21. Maura Healey

Massachusetts attorney general

Two years ago, few knew her name. Today, she’s our new attorney general, the progressive outsider who startled Boston when she sped past the Democratic establishment’s candidate, Warren Tolman, winning both the primary and the general elections by astonishing 25-point margins.

The Harvard College and Northeastern Law grad practiced at WilmerHale before going to work for then–Middlesex County District Attorney Martha Coakley. She followed Coakley to the state AG’s office, where she ran the state’s lawsuit against the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as a companion to those brought by LGBT advocacy groups. (In case you missed it, DOMA lost.) When Coakley announced her run for governor, Healey—despite the fact that she’d never run for anything before—immediately announced her own campaign for what she calls “the greatest job in the world.”

Few voters cared that she was gay; Healey says she was asked much more often about having been a professional basketball player in Europe than about being a lesbian. But surely electing the first “out” attorney general in the nation has given Massachusetts a warm feeling about not being, say, Indiana.

As AG, Healey has been surprisingly—but not ostentatiously—fearless. She came out against her old boss’s deal to allow Partners HealthCare to take over three community hospitals, without slamming Coakley. She proposed banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, and said her office will closely watch the new casino industry for malfeasance. She didn’t mind disappointing supporters when she came out against legalizing marijuana, claiming that legalization has increased crime elsewhere.

Just a few months into her new job, Healey’s swift rise has set off chatter about her ambitions. Might she be our next governor? Healey dismisses that speculation as slightly ridiculous, but acknowledges that other power players in town are now calling for meetings, trying to figure her out.

She’s figuring it out, too. At the recent St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast, Healey waved what looked like a pile of subpoenas—a lighthearted reference to her job as a political-corruption watchdog. But it’s no joke that unfettered zeal could trip up anyone’s political ambitions. When the Globe Spotlight Team finds the next snake’s nest of patronage or no-show jobs, she’ll have to choose which powerful enemies she’s willing to make. Will she pick entrenched politicians, power brokers, the press, or voters? —E.J. Graff


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Yiqing Shao Yiqing Shao, Digital Editor at Boston Magazine bmagdigital+yshao@gmail.com