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Is Gov. Patrick Headed For Washington?

Monday, September 24, 2012


Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick took to the airwaves Sunday to slam Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, prompting a new round of questions about how long he will remain in the Bay State if President Obama wins a second term.

Presidential Proxy

Appearing opposite New Hampshire's Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte on NBC's Meet the Press, Patrick said his predecessor's comments at a private fundraiser about the 47 percent of Americans who are dependent on the government were shocking coming from a presidential candidate.

Patrick related how his own mother relied on both food stamps and welfare at times in her journey to earn her GED, get a job and become financially independent.

Ayotte countered the Governor, arguing that "Too many people have to rely on food stamps or unemployment benefits instead of a good job."

With the number of Americans on food stamps ballooning from 28.6 million in 2008 to 46.7 million today, Ayotte maintained that President Obama's policies have failed to deliver and it is time for a change in the form of Romney.

"I know that he cares about every single American in this country," Ayotte said.

"He wants opportunity, he wants upward mobility, he wants people to have that good paying job."

However, Patrick said that Romney's policies are not likely to deliver on those promises.

"The policies that are on offer by Governor Romney are policies that have shown themselves to fail," he said.

"We should not go back."

While Ayotte continued to hit on the persistently high unemployment numbers that have plagued the Obama administration and the fact that health insurance premiums have risen in the wake of the President's healthcare bill, Patrick said things are slowly getting better, noting the 4.6 million private sector jobs created under Obama and the greater number of Americans with healthcare coverage.

"Are we done? Of course not," he said.

"But we're certainly on a better course and pointed in the right direction."

A Play for a Washington Appointment?

Governor Patrick's Sunday television appearance is the latest installment in a history of public support and surrogacy for Obama.

Patrick campaigned for Obama in 2008, and, more recently, he delivered a prime-time speech at the Democratic National Convention on Charlotte where he criticized Romney for his time as Governor of the Commonwealth.

Massachusetts observers have wondered if Governor Patrick's increasingly prominent position on the national stage may indicate plans to join the Obama administration in Washington if the President succeeds in his reelection bid this November.

"The Obama campaign should be paying him, not the good people of the Commonwealth," said Worcester GOP leader Chris Pinto.

Pinto previously criticized Patrick for being more concerned with Washington than Beacon Hill and for opting to tour the Boston Ballet rather than attend JetBlue CEO David Barger's visit to Worcester, where Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray and local officials have been hard at work in their efforts to woo the airline to Worcester Regional Airport.

Democratic State Committee member Paul Giorgio said a move to Washington is always a possibility for Patrick.

"Although the Governor has said he's going to serve out his term, I think it's difficult to say no to the President when he asks you to serve your country."

If Patrick were to make the jump, Giorgio said the state will be in good hands.

"Tim Murray has been a great Lieutenant Governor. He's had six years of preparation, so he'll be a great Governor if that happens," he said. "And it'll be a great blessing for Worcester."

Giorgio did not put much stock in the charges of absenteeism levied against Governor Patrick, noting that his television appearance was on a Sunday and that he stays focused on in-state matters during the week.

Former Massachusetts Speaker of the House and GoLocalWorcester MINDSETTER Tom Finneran said Patrick's work on the campaign trail was par for the course.

"The Legislature is not in session, we’re only in the first quarter of the fiscal year, and all Governors learn, at some point, that it’s not only acceptable but also imperative to delegate certain duties. Thus the Governor’s occasional campaigning out of state should not raise hackles."

Finneran opined that Patrick may have private sector ambitions in mind, but either way, his respect and high regard for Lt. Gov. Murray mean he knows the Commonwealth will have a  responsible steward.

"I don’t think that the Governor would have any qualms whatsoever about leaving Tim in charge."

November Comes First

While some are focusing on what Patrick will be doing after Election Day, UMass-Lowell Political Science professor Morgan Marietta said it's what the Governor does before November 6 that counts.

"The attention the Governor is paying to the presidential race is a benefit to both Obama and Elizabeth Warren, who wants the decision to be a national rather than local one," he said.

Republican Senator Scott Brown has made his independence and personal Massachusetts-focused efforts the focus of his reelection campaign. Warren, on the other hand, has reminded voters of the national stakes in both the Senate and the White House every chance she gets.

"The more voters connect the presidential and Senate races together," said Marietta, "the more Warren will benefit."


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