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Republican gaining on Democrat in Massachusetts governor's race: poll

BOSTON (Reuters) - A Republican former hospital executive has pulled into a statistical tie with Massachusetts' Democratic attorney general in the race to be the state's next governor, according to a Boston Globe poll released on Friday.

The poll showed Attorney General Martha Coakley holding the support of 39 percent of likely voters, while Republican Charlie Baker had the backing of 36 percent, a 3 percentage point gap that is within the poll's 4 point margin of error.

That finding, based on a telephone poll of 605 likely voters on July 7-8 and 13-5, is the closest the two have been in any major survey conducted in the run-up to the November election.

While Massachusetts has a reputation for liberal politics, it had a string of four Republican governors including Mitt Romney, who went on to become the 2012 Republican White House contender, before current Governor Deval Patrick took office.

Patrick has said he does not plan to run for a third term.

Coakley, who in 2010 lost a bid for the U.S. Senate seat previously held by liberal icon Edward M. Kennedy to little-known Republican Scott Brown, faces a three-way primary before she can win her party's nomination.

The poll showed her with a strong lead over her main rivals in the Sept. 9 primary, state Treasurer Steve Grossman and healthcare expert Don Berwick.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Bill Trott)

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