Hiller Instinct: Is Massachusetts Ready For A Black Governor?
The Hiller Instinct: Hiller Instinct: Is Massachusetts Ready For A Black Governor?
"Well, you know, it's a part of who I am, but it's not all of who I am," Deval said. "So I think Massachusetts is ready for me because I think I'm the best candidate in the field."
But Patrick Deval is also a husband and father, and a former assistant attorney general for civil rights.
Right now, no state has a black governor, and there's only been one: Doug Wilder, in Virginia more than ten years ago.
Massachusetts elected Ed Brooke to the U.S. Senate twice, but that was more than 25 years ago.
"I'm running in part to make history, but it's not just the history of being the first black governor of Massachusetts. I hope it's to set the history of being the best governor of Massachusetts," Deval said.
At the state Democratic convention, Deval told delegates not even a top government job in Washington protects against prejudice.
"I have sat in the oval office and counseled a President of the United States, and then had trouble hailing a cab when the meeting was over," Deval said. "The cabs rolled right by me to pick up white business people and government officials dressed just like me, so you never really forget who and what you are. You never forget race. It's a part of my life, it's a part of American life."
Suffolk County District Attorney Ralph Martin agrees.
"Race is always an issue," Martin said.
Martin is the first African-American elected district attorney in Suffolk County. Martin supports Tom Riley, his friend and mentor, in the governor's contest, and doesn't think race will decide it.
"When you have people of the stature and accomplishment of Tom Reilly and Deval Patrick, people are going to have a lot more to talk about than race," Martin said.
We polled to find out whether voters here believe Massachusetts is ready for a black governor. 72 percent said yes, just 15 percent no in a 7News-Suffolk University survey.
But political consultant Joyce Ferriabough, who's run many campaigns for black candidates, knows just being ready doesn't mean it happens.
"Absolutely. I think Massachusetts is ready for a black governor," Ferriabough said. "My hope is that he will not lose because of the color of his skin."
Deval Patrick would be a long shot no matter what color he is.
When asked if he would have a better chance if he wasn’t African-American, Deval said "No, I think I have a very good chance this time."
But he's a long shot who has a shot, because his strength, how he communicates, is Tom Riley's weakness.
In person, Patrick is colorful, while Riley is colorless.
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