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Keller @ Large: In race to replace Maura Healey, it may come down to ads

Keller @ Large: With three smart choices for AG primary, it may come down to the ads
Keller @ Large: With three smart choices for AG primary, it may come down to the ads 02:28

BOSTON - In the race for the Democratic nomination to succeed Maura Healey, class-action lawyer Shannon Liss-Riordan, former Boston City Councillor Andrea Campbell and former Obama administration official Quentin Palfrey all lay claim to the Healey brand - not just the state's top lawyer but an aggressive activist on local and national issues.

Liss-Riordan's ads feature headlines from cases like her suit against Uber over their practice of denying full-time employee benefits to their drivers. The case ended in a financial settlement but no change in driver status, a controversial outcome among some plaintiffs but one she brags about in her ads. 

"One of the most effective lawyers of her generation," the narrator calls her. 

"For decades, I've led the legal battles and forged new laws to protect your rights here in Massachusetts and around the country," she declares.

In her ad, Campbell opts for more of a local backdrop, walking past the State House as she promises she'll be "taking on those who defraud the overtime system or misuse taxpayer dollars." 

And by contrast with Liss-Riordan, Campbell goes for a down-home feel as she is depicted in the kitchen with her young son as he points to a sign banning cookies before dinner and asks, "Are these rules for me?" Responds Campbell: "They're for all of us because no one is above the law."

Cute, but will activist voters in a likely low-turnout primary want cute?

"For a leader who isn't beholden to the special interests, there's one choice - Quentin Palfrey," intones the narrator in a web video on Palfrey's website. He won the party convention endorsement and has yet to go on the air with his message.

But the bottom line of this race is all three choices are smart, qualified and following in Healey's footsteps. Here's betting the biggest and most clever ad campaign wins the right to face presumptive GOP nominee Jay McMahon in November.

Campbell benefits from name recognition earned from her run for mayor of Boston last year, an edge Liss-Riordan seemed to try to blunt by calling herself "Massachusetts' own," even though she's from Texas.

The big question is: In a low-profile race that will be decided on September 6, the day after Labor Day, how many voters will know much more about these three beyond a fleeting glimpse of their commercials?

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