October 12, 2006– Vol. 42, No. 9
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Patrick gains fresh support from GOP

Alex Bloom

It’s no secret that Massachusetts’s politics lean left. Nor is it a secret that moderate republicans have won this bluest of states’ highest office since 1990.

The key to winning are the Independents, political analysts say, and they represent about 49 percent of the state’s 4 million, registered voters. Only a coalition of democrats, republicans and independents can carry a candidate into office, a political reality that Democratic gubernatorial nominee Deval Patrick has already grasped.

“It’s hugely important,” said Joe Ganley of the importance of winning the Independent vote. Ganley served as campaign manager to Chris Gabrieli during the Democratic Gubernatorial Primary. “It’s the fastest growing constituency in the state of Massachusetts. It’s absolutely critical.”

Patrick’s opponents have characterized his gubernatorial campaign as “too liberal” for Massachusetts and many pundits have questioned whether Patrick will be able to appeal to the vital moderates that shape the Bay State electorate.

In response, the Patrick-Murray campaign recently announced the formation of the “Republicans for Deval” committee, which as the name suggests, is a group of high profile state Republicans who have pledged their support for the Patrick-Murray campaign. The committee’s chairperson, Gloria Larson of Foley Hoag LLP, served as Secretary of Economic Affairs under Governor William Weld and now chairs the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority.

Other supporters include Mark Robinson, Weld’s chief of staff, and Wayne Budd, former Associate Attorney General under President George H. W. Bush.

“I’m for Deval, I’m not against Healey,” said Budd of his support for Patrick. “…I just think Deval will be better. As a citizen of Massachusetts, it’s my responsibility to vote for the best candidate for governor.”

Budd said that Patrick has already shown an ability to appeal to the electorate as a whole and will use that ability to win in November. In the Democratic primary for governor, Patrick won every single county in Massachusetts, demonstrating his statewide appeal.

“He’s proving that in the polls, he proved that in the primary election, and he will draw very well across state of Massachusetts,” said Budd. “He’s ready to unite the state of Massachusetts, he’s a fresh voice and a new voice in state politics, he’s got the ability by dint of his experience, and he’s a consensus builder. All of those things will appeal to the people of Massachusetts and will work well for him as our governor.”

Mary Lee King, a Republican who served as Chief Policy Advisor for both Weld and Governor Paul Celluci, is supporting Patrick because she believes Patrick understands the importance of bringing people together.

“I really feel strongly that people need to work together to go forward and this arguing between the legislative and executive branches is not doing anything to help,” said King, who now works for the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management.

Patrick’s broad base of support is showing in the polls. A recent Boston Globe poll showed Patrick with a huge lead over Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey, the Republican nominee. The Oct. 1 poll showed Patrick with a 25 percent lead, carrying 55 percent of voters to Healey’s 30 percent.

The more telling numbers of the poll show that among Independents, Patrick is winning 37 percent of the vote to Healey’s 29 percent with a hefty 24 percent still undecided. Similarly, in the Globe’s final Democratic Gubernatorial Primary poll conducted on Sep. 16, Patrick had support from 41 percent of Independents to Gabrieli’s 30 percent.

Ganley believes that Patrick’s message of optimism resonated well with Independents during the primary and continues to resonate well as the general election approaches.

“He’s running a very optimistic campaign and he’s being very candid about some of challenges facing debate—a very refreshing approach in Massachusetts politics,” said Ganley. “I think Independents are tired of the same old debate about Republican versus Democrat. They’re looking for who is going to do the best job as governor and who is going to solve the state’s problems.”

Yet the Patrick-Murray campaign insists more work must be done in order to carry the election.

The campaign is not stopping with Republicans. The Patrick-Murray campaign also announced the formation of a business cabinet two weeks ago of Patrick supporters in the business community. The group includes Cleve Killingworth, President and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Peter Slavin, the president of Massachusetts General Hospital, and Josh Boger, the president of Vertex Pharmaceuticals in addition to Larson.

Boger insisted that the Republican reputation for being more business friendly and Democratic reputation for being bad for business was “a silly myth.”

“What’s bad for business is incompetence, disengagement and neglect,” said Boger. “Massachusetts deserves better leadership than it has had over the last decade. Deval Patrick will listen and he will work on moving Massachusetts forward.”

The Healey-Hillman campaign, however, has not been impressed with the Deval Patrick’s recent announcements. Tim O’Brien, campaign manager for the Republican ticket, dismissed Gloria Larson’s committee and questioned her credibility as a Republican.

“Gloria is a registered Independent. She endorsed Tom Reilly and her husband [Allen Larson] endorsed [Chris] Gabrieli,” said Tim O’Brien, campaign manager for the Healey-Hillman campaign. “Now they’ve completed the trifecta and endorsed Deval.”

“Give her a couple of weeks and she’ll be endorsing [Green Party candidate] Grace Ross. It’s safe to say we’re not going to lose this election because Gloria Larson is with Deval Patrick.”

O’Brien said that the Patrick-Murray campaign is out of touch with the issues that Independents care about and Kerry Healey is not worried about her current deficit in the polls.

According to the recent Globe poll, O’Brien is right. Half of Massachusetts voters support Healey’s position on rolling back the state income tax from 5.3 percent to 5 percent while 63 percent oppose driver’s license for illegal immigrants and 59 percent oppose in-state tuition for immigrants.

Still, Ganley believes that Independents, regardless of differences over policy issues, will lean toward Patrick. Ganley noted that Gabrieli’s campaign differed on many substantive issues with Patrick, but both men stressed their plans for office, while Healey has remained negative.

“We’re big believers that people don’t want to hear about partisan races,” said Ganley. “They want to hear about what you would do in office to solve the state’s problems. The fact is she does not have a very good record …on solving those problems.”

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