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Patrick Wins Democratic Primary in Massachusetts Governor Race

BY Admin  September 20, 2006 at 2:40 PM EDT

Deval Patrick

Patrick would be the first black governor of Massachusetts and second in the nation, while Healey would become the first woman in the state elected to the position.

In his victory speech, Patrick told supporters, “I’ve asked you to see this not as my campaign, but as yours — not just my chance to be governor, but your chance, our chance, to reclaim our civic and political future.”

Patrick, who is vying for his first elected position, solidly defeated his primary opponents, businessman Christopher Gabrieli and Attorney General Thomas Reilly. Patrick won 50 percent of the vote, Gabrieli received 27 percent and Reilly trailed with 23 percent.

When Patrick emerged as a candidate in January 2005 he was a political unknown. He is a lawyer who headed the Justice Department’s civil rights division under President Clinton and most recently was executive vice president and general counsel for Coca-Cola Co.

Though Patrick was favored going into the primary, the race was tight at times, and a poll by the Boston Globe had the candidates in a virtual dead heat at the end of August.

Healey did not face primary opposition and in the days leading up to the Democratic primary, her campaign launched attack ads against Gabrieli, despite Patrick’s lead in the polls. Gabrieli tried to spin the ads to his advantage, stressing that Healey obviously thought he was the most electable candidate.

Both Gabrieli and Reilly were better known than Patrick coming into the race and had substantially more money to use for their campaigns. Gabrieli spent more than $8 million of his own fortune.

Without such financial backing, Patrick’s team relied on a wide volunteer base and grass-roots organization. The campaign used the Internet to organize supporters and raise over $1 million in donations.

Healey immediately began criticizing Patrick after his victory, saying he would raise taxes and government spending. Both issues are expected to play roles in the run-up to the November election.