Coakley, meanwhile, finds herself in a familiar position, cruising through a Democratic primary with a far more competitive general election contest probably waiting for her on the other side. The difference between 2014 and 2010 is that Baker's formidability is more predictable than Scott Brown's.
With a week left before the polls officially open, Grossman and Berwick had little choice but to start roughing up Coakley as best they could. In press releases, media appearances and two televised debates, the Democratic trail runners took aim at Coakley's approach toward health care giant Partners, her settlement with a well-known lobbyist, and her general we'll-see attitude toward a number of issues that have driven the campaign narrative thus far.
But will it be enough? The final pre-primary Boston Globe poll showed a 20-point lead for Coakley (43 percent) over Grossman (23 percent), with Berwick at 13 percent.
The normally affable, low-key doctor went for blunt force trauma when given the chance on stage with his two opponents. Scott Brown was beatable, he said, and Elizabeth Warren showed that when she "drove him to New Hampshire." "I want to ask what every single Democrat in Massachusetts is wondering: Why is it different this time?" Berwick said, to gasps in the media viewing gallery.
Grossman and Berwick tried their best over the last days of the campaign to drive up Coakley's negatives, raise questions about her leadership abilities and present themselves as the best alternative.
The potential danger for Democrats, of course, is that they succeed, but still fail to topple her on Tuesday, damaging the nominee for the general election and setting up a few awkward moments next Wednesday morning when the party will "unite" over coffee and eggs.
By the end of the week, Coakley seemed to be enjoying herself. Indecisive and lacking vision or a contemplative leader, willing to listen, assess and avoid the types of kneejerk sound bites that can come back to haunt?
"Unsure, absolutely, because I am going to think about it," Coakley, smiling, told debate moderator Jim Braude Thursday when asked about a graduated income tax after initially saying she could "potentially" support it.