They came into office on a wave of hope and change, but both President Barack Obama and his friend, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, have seen a drop in public opinion polls as they try to turn lofty goals into reality.
Obama, who began a vacation on Martha’s Vineyard on Sunday, could take note of the pitfalls that have befallen Patrick since he swept into office in 2006.
A gifted orator like Obama, Patrick’s rhetoric about change and clever use of the Internet inspired the Massachusetts electorate to vote for the first Democratic governor in 16 years. Patrick — Obama’s friend, fellow Chicagoan and Harvard Law graduate — also was the first black man to be elected to his high office.
More than two and a half years into his term, Patrick — who has re-enlisted Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, to help him win a second term next fall — is hindered by a nationwide recession that has undercut his grand government plans like hiring 1,000 new police officers.
Promise of a property tax cut has turned to the reality of a 25 percent sales-tax hike, and the state is scrambling to provide insurance coverage to 30,000 legal immigrants formerly covered under the universal health care law supposed to serve as a model for Obama’s national plan.
Next year’s election will occur the same day as the midterm elections that could serve as a bellwether for Obama’s own re-election prospects.
“I think both of them have suffered from excessive expectations that their own campaigns and the press helped create,” said David Gergen, who lives in Massachusetts as a Harvard University political scholar and worked in Washington under both Democratic and Republican presidential administrations. “Even though Obama got off to an impressive start, it was hard to maintain that.”
Careful not to stretch the analogy, he said the president is backed by a deeper and broader political coalition than the Massachusetts governor.
“He still has a large number of people, particularly women and blacks and the young, who pose a formidable base for him,” Gergen said of Obama. “And I don’t think Deval Patrick has that sort of natural base.”
Obama is making his third trip to Martha’s Vineyard, and he is well-versed in Massachusetts issues — even if he reveals himself as an outsider by substituting a “two” for the “chu” when he pronounces the state’s name.
During Patrick’s 2006 campaign, Obama, then a senator, made three visits to Boston for fundraisers and campaign rallies. Patrick returned the favor during Obama’s presidential campaign, serving as a surrogate speaker across the country. Patrick also was among the few guests invited back to the White House for coffee and dessert on the Obamas’ first night in the Executive Mansion.
And Patrick has been summoned to the White House on several occasions to provide the imprimatur of the nation’s governors as Obama has made official announcements.
Obama, meanwhile, has tapped several top Massachusetts politicos for key administration and diplomatic posts. Last Monday, David Thorne, the ex-brother-in-law of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., was sworn in as U.S. ambassador to Italy.
Patrick is gearing up his re-election campaign, and aides say he will likely call Obama for fundraising help.
Gergen said Patrick faces a greater political challenge now than Obama, in part because the president still has three years for the economy to smooth out, and partly because the Democrat-controlled state Legislature in Massachusetts has a history of operating independently from the governor.
“In Washington, there are a good number of Democrats who know their fate is tied to Barack Obama’s,” he said.
As a candidate for governor, Deval Patrick vowed to reinvigorate the
economy, usher in an era of green technology and make Massachusetts a
biotech hub — all while fighting to lower property taxes. Now he’s facing an economic sinkhole that threatens to turn his
first term into an exercise in political dog paddling as he desperately
tries to keep the state’s fiscal head above water. More »
As a candidate for governor, Deval Patrick vowed to reinvigorate the economy, usher in an era of green technology and make Massachusetts a biotech hub — all while fighting to lower property taxes. Now he’s facing an economic sinkhole that threatens to turn his first term into an exercise in political dog paddling as he desperately tries to keep the state’s fiscal head above water. More »
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“I have tremendous respect for Senator Clinton as a senator and, as a candidate, I think she has run an almost flawless campaign,” Gov. Deval Patrick said. But Patrick called Obama’s candidacy a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” “He’s just a cut or two above the rest of the field in leadership ability,” he added. More »