Patrick Builds on HoCo Roots

When Deval L. Patrick ’78 spoke on a panel at his 25th reunion in 2003, an audience member asked him to run for U.S. president.

Today, Patrick seems poised to launch his political career by becoming Massachusetts governor.

A CBS4 poll of 664 likely voters released on Nov. 2 shows Patrick, the Democratic candidate, leading with the support of 55 percent of likely voters. His Republican opponent, Kerry M. Healey ’82, trailed with 34 percent.

Patrick, a former chair of the Dunster House Committee, has focused on health care, education, and the environment throughout his campaign. He emphasized renewable energy sources, positioning himself among the few politicians who support the Cape Wind project to create the country’s first offshore wind farm on Nantucket Sound.

Patrick, who has never been elected to public office, appeared at Harvard and other colleges to raise issues relevant to younger voters. He said he will promote lower housing costs and increased government services to keep recent graduates in Massachusetts after college. He also told students that he will push for increased funding for state colleges and universities.

A social liberal, Patrick clashes with current Republican governor W. Mitt Romney over stem cell research and gay marriage. Patrick has said he will create incentives to promote stem cell research as a means of improving Massachusetts’ economy, and said he opposes a constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

Patrick, who graduated from Harvard Law School in 1982, worked as a lawyer for most of his career. In 1985, while an attorney for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, he helped overturn a death sentence for Carl Ray Songer, who was convicted of killing a state trooper. Healey ripped into Patrick’s role in the case with a controversial campaign ad in October, accusing Patrick of taking a soft stance on crime. Unlike Healey, Patrick opposes the death penalty.

Despite the negative campaign ads, Patrick continues to enjoy a strong lead in the polls with the help of a large grassroots campaign involving thousands of volunteers across the state.

­—Staff writer Claire M. Guehenno can be reached at