Optimistic Patrick Will Focus On Jobs

By Jess Bidgood


Oct. 5, 2010

Gov. Patrick at WGBH studios on Thursday. (Jess Bidgood/WGBH)

BOSTON -- A smiling Gov. Deval Patrick strode into WGBH’s studios in Brighton on Monday. His bright, if tired-looking, face was a marked contrast to the one on the cover of the New York Times the same day – that of President Barack Obama, grimly addressing a press conference on the “shellacking” his party had taken nationally in Tuesday night's midterm elections.

For now, Patrick gets to tell a different story. He won a second term on Tuesday night with 48.5 percent of the vote – beating his GOP opponent Charlie Baker, the former Harvard-Pilgrim CEO.

In an interview with Emily Rooney, Patrick said he worked hard to keep his campaign a substantive one in a close, contentious race.

“We ran a campaign that is about leadership by conviction, that is about making tough choices and leveling with people and not in sound bits and scare tactics and all of that,” Patrick said.

Patrick retained his office at a time of economic struggle on the state and national level – but in Massachusetts, he says, it’s not all bad.

“It’s a matter of fact that we’re growing fast than 46 other states,” Patrick said, crediting a job-growth strategy developed by his administration with helping to keep the state’s unemployment rate at 8.4 percent, while the nation’s sits at 9.6.

Patrick says that growth could help the state face down its $2 billion budget gap. “Because we have invested in growth and because people are getting back to work, revenue at the state level is coming back,” Patrick said. “We are $200 million over benchmark in both September and October.”

The governor’s optimism might seem almost out of place during the enduring uncertainty that goes along with a jobless recovery. But he says it shouldn’t be. “It’s a strategy as old as the scripture, to take anger and whip it up into fear and try to ride that into office,” Patrick said. “I think what so many people are hungry for is a reason to hope.”

Still, Patrick says, Tuesday’s election served him with some new uncertainties. He said the passage of Question One, which repealed the state’s sales tax on alcohol, will present problems for funding the state’s substance abuse programs, which revenue from that tax was used to pay for. “I don’t have a solution for those programs right now,” Patrick said, “I’m going to have to find one.”

Patrick also said he’s not ruling out a role for his former opponent, Charlie Baker, in his efforts to deal with the rising costs of health care. “Charlie has helped in the past and I hope he’ll help in the future,” Patrick said.

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