On a night when Democrats take back the House and now seem likely to claim the Senate as well, few eyes are turned to reliably blue Massachusetts where Democrats control the entire Congressional delegation, Ted Kennedy extends his 44-year run in the Senate, and the governorship reverted to Democrats. But Deval Patrick's triumph to become the nation's second black governor, after Virginia's Doug Wilder, shouldn't be overlooked. Patrick ran one of the best races of the year, defeating a formidable Democratic primary field including the state's attorney general. He defeated his Republican opponent, Lt. Governor Kerry Healy, by a stunning 20 percent. It's easy to see Massachusetts as a liberal redoubt and in many ways it is but that hardly made Patrick's win an easy one. First, the state's racial history isn't so pure. Anyone who remembers Boston's busing crisis in the mid-1970s--flicked at most recently in Marin Scorcese's The Departed--would be pretty amazed to see Patrick win so handily. Second, the state has had a slew of GOP governors--including for the last 16 years--who are seen as a vital balance to the state's one- party rule. Democrats don't walk to the governorship here. Plus, this was Patrick's first election!
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