Gov. Deval Patrick (D)
Elected: 2006, term expires Jan. 2011, 1st term.
Born: July 31, 1956, Chicago, IL .
Education: Harvard U., A.B. 1978, J.D. 1982.
Family: Married (Diane); 2 children.
Professional Career: Michael Clark Rockefeller Memorial Traveling Fellow, Sudan, 1978-79; Law clerk, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, 1982-83; Practicing atty., 1983-94, 1997-99; Asst. U.S. Atty. Gen. for Civil Rights, 1994-97; Vice president and general counsel, Texaco, 1999-2001; Executive vice president and general counsel, Coca-Cola, 2001-04; ACC Capital Holdings, 2004-06.
Deval Patrick, elected in 2006, is the state’s first African-American governor and only the nation’s second black governor. Virginia’s Douglas Wilder was the first in 1989. Patrick grew up in a tough South Side Chicago neighborhood, and lived in an apartment where he shared a single room with his mother and sister; his father, a saxophone player, left the family when he was a child. He showed tremendous promise in elementary school, and a teacher recommended him to A Better Chance, an organization that sends gifted minority students to college preparatory schools. Patrick received a scholarship to the tony Milton Academy in Massachusetts. “(It] was like coming to a different planet,” Patrick said later. He went on to graduate from Harvard College and then spent a year working in Africa on a United Nations youth training project in the Darfur region of Sudan. When he returned, he graduated from Harvard Law School and clerked for a federal appeals court judge in Los Angeles. In 1983, he joined the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in New York, and in 1986 he went into private law practice. During the Clinton administration, he was the assistant attorney general for civil rights. He returned to private practice in Boston in 1997, and later was general counsel for Texaco and Coca-Cola.Since Democrat Michael Dukakis left office in 1990, Massachusetts has had four Republican governors, the latest of which was Mitt Romney. Romney, running as an outsider in 2002, defeated Democratic state Treasurer Shannon O’Brien by 50%-45%. He faced large Democratic majorities in the statehouse, and after a single term, decided not to seek re-election but instead to run for president. The open governor’s race attracted a formidable Democratic primary field that included Attorney General Thomas Reilly and venture capitalist Christopher Gabrieli. Patrick was a long shot in his first-ever run for elected office, but his grassroots campaign quickly built support among liberal activists who liked his outsider message and his criticism of the state’s “backroom” political culture. He won the state party endorsement at its June 2006 convention, and after holding a steady lead in the polls throughout the summer, won the nomination decisively in the September 19 primary. Despite speculation that, as the most liberal of the three candidates, he would prove to be the weakest nominee, Patrick won 50% to Gabrieli’s 27% and Reilly’s 23%.The Republican nominee was Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey. Also running was Christy Mihos, a wealthy businessman and former director of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, who left the Republican Party to run as an independent. Mihos never gained traction, and Healey struggled to generate enthusiasm about her campaign. One reason was Romney, who was no asset in Healey’s bid to succeed him. He had failed to build the state party in his four years, and his frequent out-of-state travel and the jibes he directed at Massachusetts while preparing to run for president left him with low job-approval ratings. Patrick consistently referred to the “Romney-Healey administration,” and ran television ads featuring photos of Romney and Healey.
|Deval Patrick (D)||1,234,984||(56%)|
|Kerry Healey (R)||784,342||(35%)|
|Christy Mihos (I)||154,628||(7%)|
|Deval Patrick (D)||452,229||(50%)|
|Christopher Gabrieli (D)||248,301||(27%)|
|Thomas Reilly (D)||211,031||(23%)|
Healey called Patrick soft on crime and insisted he would raise taxes and increase state spending. Patrick pointed to his credentials as a Justice Department prosecutor and highlighted his executive-level experience at two Fortune 500 companies as evidence of his business-friendly background. Late in the campaign, Patrick was put on the defensive when Healey’s campaign ran tough ads criticizing him for his advocacy on behalf of convicted rapist Benjamin LaGuer. Patrick declined to respond with an aggressive counterattack, insisting that his success so far was the result of avoiding such conventional political tactics. His instincts proved correct. The ensuing publicity surrounding the negative ads, which featured a woman walking alone in a parking garage, muted the charges that Patrick would weaken criminal-justice laws. He won a sweeping 56%-35% victory, with 7% for Mihos. Patrick became the first Democrat in 20 years to win the Massachusetts governor’s office.In office, he set about unraveling Romney’s initiatives. He restored $384 million in budget cuts, rescinded an agreement with the federal government that empowered the state police to arrest illegal immigrants, and ended a Romney plan to revamp the state’s automobile insurance system and cut funding for abstinence-only sex education. But his honeymoon period ended quickly as a series of missteps tarnished his image. Lavish spending on his official state car, helicopter travel, a renovation of the governor’s office that included $12,000 drapes and the hiring of a $72,000-a-year chief of staff for his wife led to weeks of bad press. Patrick acknowledged making a telephone call to Robert Rubin of Citigroup, which has significant business interests in the state, on behalf of the subprime mortgage lender Ameriquest, on whose board Patrick served from 2004 to 2006. The state Republican Party filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Ethics Commission, but the commission decided against reprimanding Patrick. Then he scaled back his public appearances after his wife, a prominent local lawyer, was revealed to be suffering from exhaustion and depression.
Patrick forged ahead, advancing big-ticket and bold new policies. He called for $1 billion in investment in biotechnology, which was passed by the Legislature in 2008. He called for major transportation projects, including a commuter rail service from Boston to New Bedford. His corporate tax reductions also passed. In January 2008, he proposed a $28 billion budget, with a $368 million increase for education, making possible longer school days and universal pre-kindergarten. He also called for tuition-free community colleges and in-state college tuition for children of illegal immigrants. He risked the wrath of teacher unions by proposing “readiness schools” modeled on charter schools and free from union, school district, and state regulations. He also proposed $213 million in programs for the elderly and disabled and for local policing. But revenues came in lower than expected, and in January 2009 Patrick engineered widespread cuts in planned spending. In March 2009, he proposed a 19-cent gas tax increase.
Ever since the state Supreme Judicial Court legalized same-sex marriage in a 4-3 decision in 2004, opponents had sought a vote on a constitutional amendment reversing the decision. To achieve that, they needed the votes of 50 of the state’s 200 legislators in two successive legislatures, which they succeeded in getting in 2005. The issue came to a head in 2007. Patrick lobbied legislators heavily to vote against putting the issue on the ballot (although opinion had moved to the point that same-sex marriage might well have been approved), and in intense negotiations, switched 11 votes. The vote was 151-45 against a referendum, with same-sex marriage opponents coming up five votes short of the required 50. Patrick also pressed successfully for repeal of a 1913 law banning out-of-state couples from marrying in Massachusetts if their own state’s laws prohibited the union.
Patrick had less luck with his casino gambling proposal. He proposed selling licenses for three resort casinos, with the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe getting an option to seek federal approval of a fourth. He pointed out that gambling was an old tradition in Massachusetts: Historic Faneuil Hall in Boston had been financed by lotteries. Democratic Senate President Therese Murray strongly agreed, but Democratic Speaker Salvatore DiMasi was strongly opposed, and in March 2008, the House defeated the casino proposal 108-46. The vote came while Patrick was in New York negotiating a $1.35 million book contract.
In the hotly contested 2008 Democratic primary, Patrick endorsed Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois in October 2007 and spoke at a rally of 10,000 Obama supporters in Boston Common. Obama’s chief strategist, David Axelrod, was a consultant on Patrick’s 2006 campaign. Even so, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York won the Massachusetts presidential primary. Patrick is expected to run for re-election in 2010.