Gov. Patrick seeks re-election amid recession and strong rivals
Carol Fulp (center) hosted a fundraiser at her home for Gov. D
|Gov. Deval Patrick greets members of the National Honor Society at English High School in Jamaica Plain during a recent visit to the school.|
The Democrat said he expects a three-way election this fall will offer voters a choice between continuing with his efforts to improve the state, especially in implementing health care, education and transportation overhauls, or backtracking under the leadership of his Republican or independent opponents.
He alluded to Republican Charles Baker and state Treasurer Timothy Cahill, a former Democrat running for governor as an independent, though he did not mention them by name. Christy Mihos is also seeking the GOP nomination, while Grace Ross is challenging Patrick for the Democratic nomination and Jill Stein is running under the Green-Rainbow Party banner.
“The challengers are good people, decent people, but they have a very different idea about what the moment presents, and about the importance of investing in the here-and-now and building a stronger commonwealth for the future,” Patrick told a crowd of supporters inside the Owl Diner, a hotspot in this former mill city.
We have a very strong record to run on, and notwithstanding that, there are going to be a whole lot of things said — some of them being said outside right now — that are not true, and that folks who say them know are not true. But they say them because that is the kind of politics that we have to be about changing,” the governor added.
Outside the diner, more than 100 Lowell police officers and their supporters protested Patrick’s appearance, the first of a weekend barnstorming tour built around a formal kickoff speech at Boston English High School.
The officers complained about Patrick’s decision to replace uniformed police officers with civilian flaggers at some local and state road construction sites, and also to cut back on state funding for supplemental pay officers receive if they get advanced law enforcement degrees.
“Deval Hates Cops,” said one sign. “Deval Is An Elitist,” said another. As the governor entered the diner, one of the protesters asked, “Where’s the Cadillac?” referring to an early controversy about his decision to replace his state-issued Ford sedan with a Cadillac.
Despite their protest, Lowell’s police unions have contracts guaranteeing the city will cover any lost state funding for the educational pay. The contracts also ensures that officers must be used for all details on city streets.
Some police unions, including the one representing State Police troopers, endorsed Patrick’s Republican opponent in 2006, and since then, he has heard other unions complain as he has combined agencies in a massive transportation overhaul. The head of the state’s AFL-CIO union had to implore his members to support Democrat Martha Coakley over Republican Scott Brown in the state’s recent U.S. Senate special election, though many defected anyway.
Patrick, 53, has cast both changes as part of the tough decision-making he has had to make during his first term. Since his inauguration in January 2007 as the state’s first African American chief executive and the first Democrat to hold the post in 16 years, the nation has gone into a deep recession that has forced more than $3 billion in budget cuts.
Patrick said such changes are about “efficiency” and “simplicity” demanded by the times.
Baker, the former Harvard Pilgrim Health Care president who was budget chief in the Weld administration, has complained that Patrick has mismanaged the budget and not delivered on promises to create 100,000 new jobs or provide a property tax cut to Massachusetts residents.
“Four years ago, Massachusetts enjoyed a $700 million budget surplus and a strong rainy day fund,” Baker said in a statement. “In just two years, Deval Patrick expanded spending by billions and an already bloated state bureaucracy by 20 percent.”
He also noted Massachusetts unemployment is at its highest level in 30 years.
Former Gov. Michael S. Dukakis, who is the last Democrat to both lose and win re-election in Massachusetts, said Patrick has done a commendable job, given the circumstances.
“A rookie governor, as I was in ‘74, it takes time to feel your way through and get on your feet on the ground and try to master the job,” Dukakis said. “I went through three recessions, and they’re hell. And given what’s happened to other governors in the Northeast, I think he’s done a helluva job. We’re in relatively good shape.”