Patrick elected, but campus remains divided

by Beacon Staff • November 8, 2006

Cheers erupted from Democratic supporters in the Hynes Convention Center on Boylston Street as giant video screens reported Patrick's 21-point defeat of Republican nominee Kerry Healey.,After a 19-month campaign of unprecedented expense and bitterness, it took less than a minute after polls closed on Election Night for Deval Patrick to be declared the first black governor of Massachusetts in a landslide victory.

Cheers erupted from Democratic supporters in the Hynes Convention Center on Boylston Street as giant video screens reported Patrick's 21-point defeat of Republican nominee Kerry Healey.

The cheers continued as different demographics-including independent, minority and women voters-all showed a wide margin of victory for Patrick.

Dr. William Smith, executive director of the Center for Diversity, said Patrick's victory will help unite the Massachusetts' diverse residents and interests.

"There is a yearning in most people to bring people together," Smith said.

"[Patrick's victory] makes a resounding statement that this is a state that encompasses everyone."

Patrick repeatedly credited his victory to what he called "the broadest and best grassroots organization this Commonwealth has ever seen," from venture capitalists to college students.

Applause shook the building as he commended his supporters.

"You are every black man, woman and child in Massachusetts and America, and every other striver of every race and kind, who is reminded tonight that the American dream is for you, too," Patrick said.

Patrick called the resounding victory a mandate from the Commonwealth.

Emerson voters expected as much from him when they voted.

"I'm just not happy with the way things are being done now. Deval Patrick will be more apt to make more changes," said Brian Baldeck, a junior new media major who voted in his hometown of Randolph.

Kerry O'Donnell, a senior writing, literature, and publishing major, rode the Emerson voting van to the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Tecnology, the designated poll for students living in dormitories.

In front of the polling station, the sidewalk was dominated by Deval Patrick signs and showed no signs of opposition from Healey or independent Christy Mihos.

She said she voted for Deval Patrick despite her desire, as an independent, for two-party government.

"I believe in balance," O'Donnell said. "But I feel like we need change to happen now."

Massachusetts officials also expressed an expectation for change from a Patrick governorship. Speaker of the House Sal Dimasi, who was campaigning at the station, said he looked forward to working with a Democratic governor.

"People are sick and tired of 16 years of Republican rule in the executive office of this state," Dimasi said. "We're not going to agree on everything, but we can work together to make this state a better place to live and work and go to school."

At the victory rally, Patrick's organization was praised for having already brought a change to campaign politics.

Massachusetts senators Ted Kennedy, who was re-elected for the eighth and probably last time on Tuesday, and John Kerry, who was recently criticized by Republicans and the press for a botched joke regarding soldiers in Iraq, congratulated Patrick for defeating the politics of "fear and smear."

Former governor Michael Dukakis, among many others, called the campaign the "dirtiest I have ever seen [in Massachusetts].

Patrick chose not to run personal attack advertisements in response to those aired by Healey and her supporters.

He said he had been approached by a woman that day who had thanked him for "running a campaign her kids could watch and be proud of."

Emerson students and faculty blamed Healey's negative campaigning for her loss. Kathleen Langlois, a sophomore marketing communication major, said she was disappointed in Healey's campaign.

"I expected more from Kerry Healey," Langlois said. "I've felt a lot of negativity from her campaign and that swayed my decision."

Michael Weiler, an associate political communications professor, said at an election forecast forum hosted by the Communication, Politics, and Law Association on Tuesday, Healey's campaign had attempted to raise race as an issue by introducing other issues that imply or provoke racial resentment.

"She did it ham-handedly," Weiler said.

"She did it in a state where she was less likely to get away with it."

Bob Corker, who used similar strategy in defeating Harold Ford, Jr. in the Tennessee Senate race, proved racial innuendoes can still be an effective ploy in American campaign politics.

Patrick addressed the negativity of the campaign in his speech, but with an eye towards rebuilding a relationship across party lines.

When he praised governor Mitt Romney's administration, the crowd booed just as lustily as they had been cheering earlier, but Patrick hushed them.

"Let's put all that behind us," Patrick said. "See, that's yesterday. I am here to serve as governor of the whole Commonwealth, and they have a stake in a fair and purposeful government, just like the rest of us."

In her concession speech, Kerry Healey congratulated Patrick and his team.

"This has been a tough race," she said, "Today another path was chosen by the voters here in Massachusetts, and I respect and honor that choice, but we must continue to have dialogue here in Massachusetts.

Today does not mark the end of the debate. We need to continue the debate, continue democracy here in Massachusetts."

"She's the best lieutenant governor in the entire country," Romney said. "Frankly, in my mind there's no doubt about it: you'll be seeing more of Kerry Healey in four years."