BOSTON (CBS) — Attorney General Maratha Coakley is the best-known democrat in the race for governor, as reflected in polls showing her with a big early lead, while former homeland security official Juliette Kayyem is little known.

Kayyem is out to change that though, by taking on Coakley directly and bluntly.

With just 31 days to go until democrats gather to choose candidates for governor, the gloves are finally coming off and it’s the two female candidates at the center of the scrum.

“Martha certainly knows more than anyone that no one should go into a campaign believing that they deserve to win,” Kayyem said. A reference to Coakley’s stunning senate race loss to Scott Brown.

That sharp elbow is just part of a Kayyem offensive painting of Coakley as too timid on hot-button issues like mandatory sex education in schools.

“The AG sort of was wavering on her answer to that question,” Kayyem said. “Where she comes out now I don’t know, but what’s most important is that we’re strong from the beginning.”

But Coakley says the race isn’t a contest of who is perceived bolder.

“I think people are more interested in what you’re actually going to do than the adjectives as how you describe them,” she said. “I’ve just been endorsed by planned parenthood as someone who stands up for that good education in our schools, so I think that speaks for itself.”

But Kayyem claims endorsements are old hat and Coakley’s “old way of doing things” is old news.

“I am younger than the other candidates, that’s just my biography, and I represent a new generation of leadership that’s ready to take charge,” she said.

But what do voters really want? It remains to be seen.

“I am very proud of my career, my experience, my ideas about how Massachusetts can move forward to be prosperous and fair, and I think that’s what voters are interested in,” Coakley said.

Candidates don’t make it onto the primary ballot if they don’t get 15-percent support from delegates to their party convention, and it’s a safe guess that Coakley wouldn’t mind seeing Kayyem fall short. But Kayyem hopes the party’s affinity for outsider candidates in the era of Gov. Deval Patrick and Sen. Elizabeth Warren is still going strong.




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