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Deval Patrick wins re-election

Glen Johnson
Deval Patrick wins re-election
In this Associated Press photograph, Gov. Deval Patrick is seen shortly before casting his ballot early Tuesday morning. The democratic governor won a tough race against GOP challenger Charles Baker and bucked a national anti-incumbent trend.

BOSTON — 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 an Ivy League resume that resembles Obama’s, defeated Republican Charles Baker, a former health care executive, Tim Cahill, the state treasurer and independent candidate and Jill Stein, the Green-Rainbow Party candidate.  

With 92 percent of the state’s precincts reporting, Patrick had 49 percent to Baker’s 42 percent. Cahill was in third place with 8 percent and Stein with 1 percent.  

The Republican Governors Association, hoping to knock off the president’s fellow Chicagoan and Harvard Law alumnus, spent millions on anti-Patrick and anti-Cahill ads.

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.

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 more than $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.

The four candidates made their final pitch to voters Monday, with Patrick trying to fend off a serious challenge from Republican Baker amid an anti-incumbent, pro-GOP wave sweeping the country.

Cahill remained a warrior until the end, shaking commuters’ hands before sunrise and carrying on a largely solitary fight after the defection of his running mate and top campaign advisers.

Stein underscored her outsider’s credentials by making only one public appearance on the eve of the election.

“I knew four years ago that we would face headwinds,” Patrick told an evening rally in the city’s Roslindale neighborhood. “I knew that we’d have the headwinds that come with being a newcomer, trying to break in and trying to move the ball forward and trying to change the way business is done on Beacon Hill. What I didn’t expect was a global economic collapse that would sweep Massachusetts up as it has the whole country.”

Gathering himself, he cited his lieutenant governor as he added: “Let me tell you one thing Tim Murray and I didn’t do: We didn’t cut and run like a whole bunch of folks who had this job before us. We stood right with you.”

Patrick’s election in 2006 broke a 16-year run of Republican governors pockmarked by the resignations of William F. Weld and Paul Cellucci, and the decision by former Gov. Mitt Romney to skip seeking a second term so he could run for president.

Baker had a simple pitch when asked what he wanted voters to weigh when they stepped into the booth Tuesday.

“I want them to think about whether Massachusetts needs a turnaround. I’m the only turnaround candidate in the race, having done one before,” he said, citing his transformation of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care from receivership to the top rankings in customer service.

Cahill, the state’s treasurer, didn’t hesitate in answering the same question.

“I want them to know I’m the candidate for the middle class. I’m going to fight for them as I’ve fought throughout this campaign, and I want them to have a choice, an election choice between the two-party system,” he said.

The most recent polls showed Patrick and Baker close, with Cahill a distant third and Stein in the single digits. Political analysts said Patrick stood to benefit from Baker and Cahill splitting the anti-incumbent vote.

Meredith Fay, 25, of Hopkinton, had a short answer when asked why she was backing Baker: “He’s not Deval Patrick.” Emerging from a Red Line stop in the city’s financial district, Fay spotted Baker and asked to take a cell phone picture with him.

“I think he would bring a new voice to Massachusetts,” she said.

Tom Hennessey, 55, of Woburn, sought out Cahill as he shook hands outside South Station. “I like you because you’re a good guy, a family man and you’ve run a good campaign,” Hennessey said as he gripped Cahill’s hand.

As he walked away, he told a reporter, “He hasn’t employed bully politics like the other candidates in the race. He’s a little more concerned about telling me what he wants to do for the state than what the other guys are going to do to the state.”

Baker pledged to pursue a simple agenda as governor: job creation, tax cuts and reduced government spending.

“Gov. Patrick had four years to deliver a turnaround on Beacon Hill and he didn’t. He didn’t make a lot of the tough decisions that I think he should have make,” Baker said.

Cahill, who likely gave up an easy shot at being re-elected to make an all-or-nothing run for governor, said he didn’t regret his choice to run a third-party campaign. While some political analysts believe he may help re-elect Patrick by siphoning fiscally conservative votes from Baker, Cahill dismissed that speculation.

“When people say the word ‘spoiler,’ they don’t realize that I’ve been treasurer for eight years, I’ve won two statewide elections, I know how to govern. And I think that’s a big difference with your typical third-party candidate,” he said.

Associated Press