Barely 12 hours after anti-gay Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney announced he wouldn’t be seeking a second term, candidates looking to replace him after next year’s gubernatorial campaign fanned out across Massachusetts Thursday.

Attorney General Tom Reilly and fellow Democrat, Deval Patrick, made appearances in Boston, while Republican Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey headed west for appearances in Boylston and Holyoke.

Romney has been a controversial figure in politics since publicly denouncing the legalization of same-sex marriages in Massachusetts last year. When same-sex marriage became legal last May, Romney invoked a 1913 law prevented town clerks from issuing licenses to couples who do not reside in Massachusetts.

The law says that the state cannot marry an out-of-state couple if that marriage would be “void” in the couple’s home state. It had been created to prevent interracial marriages. The law is now under appeal.

Romney has spent much of this year travelling across the country weighing support for a presidential bid. In a February speech to Republican Party members in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Romney lambasted Massachusetts’s highest court, which paved the way for gay marriage, accusing the justices of striking “a blow against the family.”

Several days later, in Utah, he declared “America cannot continue to lead the family of nations around the world if we suffer the collapse of the family here at home.”

Reilly, who has a solid record on gay rights issues, wasted no time to take direct aim at Healey, branding her as out-of-touch with most Massachusetts residents, and a co-conspirator in the supposed shortfalls of the Romney administration.

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