David Paterson was only the fourth Black governor in the country, and as we watched New York’s gubernatorial races and prepared to say goodbye to the first Black governor of New York State, his counterpart, Duval Patrick, the first Black governor of Massachusetts, was fighting to maintain his position.
Patrick won 49 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s election, securing his position as governor of Massachusetts for another term. In winning the election, Patrick not only will now be the country’s only Black governor, but also the first Democrat to remain governor of Massachusetts since 1986.
But it wasn’t an easy win as he narrowly beat his Republican opponent, Charlie Baker, who got 42 percent of the vote. As the campaign season proceeded, Patrick’s initially large lead against Barker dwindled.
In September, Patrick had a lead of just 5 percent. Then just four days before the election, a Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters in Massachusetts found Patrick had a very slim lead of only 2 percent, with 46 percent of the vote.
“Tonight, Massachusetts chose to look up and forward, not down and to the past,” said Patrick Tuesday night. “Thanks, especially for making a strong statement that optimism and effort matter, that focusing on the people behind the policy is the right way to move Massachusetts forward.”
Patrick thanked voters who turned out in higher numbers than usual. In some parts of the state, like the suburb of Shrewsbury, officials said there were three times the usual number of voters.
One of the biggest issues in the Massachusetts gubernatorial elections, as in most elections around the country, was unemployment. In one advertisement, Baker explained to voters that during Patrick’s term there has been enough jobs lost to empty out the famed Fenway stadium, home of the Boston Red Sox.
Patrick said, “I’m not fighting for my job,” to a group of students and faculty at Salem State University last week. “I’m fighting for theirs and for yours.” Now that the governor has been re-elected, he returned to work Wednesday with the promise of more jobs.
President Obama, a close friend of Patrick’s, was one of the first to call and congratulate the governor on his win. Patrick said in his acceptance speech that he hopes to use his campaign strategy to help push Obama to re-election in 2012.