Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick bucked the anti-incumbent, pro-Republican trend and won a second term Tuesday with the help of some of the political advisers who hope to do the same in two years for his friend President Barack Obama.
Patrick, a black Democrat with a gold-plated resume similar to Obama’s, defeated Republican Charles Baker, a former health care executive making his first bid for office. Among the first to place congratulatory calls was the president himself, the White House said.
With 91 percent of the state’s precincts reporting, Patrick had 49 percent to Baker’s 42 percent. Independent Timothy Cahill was in third place with 8 percent.
“Tonight, Massachusetts chose to look up and forward, not down and to the past,” the governor told a crowd that greeted him with chants of “four more years.”
Baker urged his supporters to “get behind the governor and do all that we can to make sure that he succeeds in pulling our economy out of the doldrums and getting it back on the right track.”
The Republican Governors Association, fearing Cahill would play spoiler, and hoping to knock off the president’s fellow Chicagoan and Harvard Law graduate, spent millions on ads attacking not just Patrick but Cahill. The state treasurer bolted the Democratic Party last year and appealed to the same fiscally conservative voters Baker targeted.
Baker attacked Patrick for eight tax hikes — including a 25 percent increase in the state sales tax — and a projected $2 billion deficit. Patrick countered by citing investments in health care, public education and emerging industries such as clean energy and life sciences.
Patrick, a 53-year-old married father of two daughters, rose from childhood poverty, attended Massachusetts’ prestigious Milton Academy, Harvard College and Harvard Law on scholarship, and served in the Clinton administration Justice Department.
After a corporate law career, he made his first bid for elective office in 2006 with the help of Chicago political consultants David Axelrod and David Plouffe, who would go on to run Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. Patrick’s campaign slogan of “Together We Can” presaged Obama’s talk of “Hope.”
After a rocky start triggered by an expensive office redecoration and pricey upgrade to a Cadillac for his official transportation, Patrick settled into the governor’s job but found himself coping with the national recession. A reluctant cost-cutter, he nonetheless trimmed over $4 billion in state spending and worked with a Democratic Legislature to deliver four on-time budgets.
In seeking re-election, Patrick cast his campaign not as a quest for personal accomplishment, but as repayment for his free education.
“I’m grateful, and all I’m trying to do is give back the same better chance that I got,” he said.
Baker gave up a nearly $2 million salary at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care to run for Patrick’s $140,000-a-year job as governor. Cahill had to withstand twin embarrassments: His campaign manager and two other senior advisers quit in late September, followed a week later by his running mate, Paul Loscocco.
Source: The Associated Press.