Michael J. Sullivan loved being a district attorney in Brockton. He could look out his office window and see the fruits of prosecuting drug dealers: people walking without fear on the streets of the old mill town, children frolicking on playgrounds.
When Sullivan was nominated as U.S. attorney for Massachusetts, he worried he wouldn’t find the job as satisfying. He needn’t have worried.
Sullivan took office a week after two planes hijacked from Boston were used in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Since then, he’s had a nonstop run of cases that raised the ire of some defense attorneys but made him the talk of political circles.
His tough-on-crime reputation, combined with his clean-cut image and political connections, have some Republicans talking him up as a 2006 candidate for state attorney general. The incumbent, Democrat Tom Reilly, is eyeing a run for governor.
Though Sullivan says he’s been too busy in his current job to think about running for another office, those who know him say he’s an obvious choice.
“If he hasn’t thought about it, he should,” said Jim Nuzzo, a GOP political analyst.
“He has done a really good job as U.S. attorney, and it’s one of those of those jumping off points for people, particularly for us on the Republican side who don’t have an awful lot of offices at our disposal in Massachusetts,” Nuzzo said.
Sullivan was first elected to public office in 1990, winning his first of three terms as a state representative from Abington. In 1995, Gov. William Weld appointed him Plymouth County district attorney after William O’Malley died in office.
Six years later, former Gov. Paul Cellucci and White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card – a longtime friend – urged President Bush [related, bio] to appoint Sullivan as U.S. attorney.
Cellucci said he was impressed by Sullivan’s work as district attorney.
“He did a lot of work on child abuse and domestic violence,” said Cellucci, who went on to become Bush’s first-term ambassador to Canada. “Mike Sullivan’s leadership in Plymouth County made sure that these cases were handled as priorities and as serious violations of the law.”