Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced yesterday that she will run for Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat. Coakley is currently the only woman elected to statewide office in Massachusetts and, if elected, would be the first woman to represent the state in the US Senate, according to the Boston Globe. Currently, there are 17 women US Senators. Coakley served as Middlesex District Attorney before being elected attorney general in 2006.
At her announcement, Coakley said, “We all know we need strong leadership to renew the economy and make it work for everyone, not only the privileged few. We need strong leadership to tackle the tough problems we see not only in Massachusetts but across the country. We need to get results on health care reform, protect the environment, provide public safety and protect our civil rights,” according to the New York Times.
Senator Kennedy died last week at his Massachusetts home after a lengthy battle with brain cancer. Kennedy was a champion of women’s rights in the Senate and the principal sponsor of more landmark legislation than any other Senator in U.S. history. Among other key legislation for women’s rights, civil rights, and human services, Kennedy played vital roles in the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment Extension Act of 1978, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Civil Rights Restoration Act, the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE), the Family Medical Leave Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1991, and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
A primary race for Kennedy’s seat will be held on December 8, prior to a special election to be held January 19, 2010.