Deval Patrick's Re-Election Campaign Could Foretell Obama's

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Before there was the Obama '08 campaign, there was Patrick '06. Deval Patrick, current governor of Massachusetts and mirror image of Barack Obama. Both men broke racial barriers, put down roots in Chicago, were raised by single moms, and attended Harvard Law School. They share many of the same advisers and, according to the Washington Post, Patrick's current re-election campaign is being viewed as a trial run for Obama's in 2012.

Both men appealed to independents in their original campaigns, Philip Rucker reports, and are now attempting to defend their time in office against an anti-incumbent rage:

Whether Patrick is reelected is likely to depend on whether he can again appeal to independents, who outnumber Democrats and Republicans in Massachusetts. Independents flocked to Patrick in 2006 and Obama in 2008 but swung decisively for Republican Scott Brown in a special Senate election last winter.

Patrick is not trying to win them over by offering a new approach or backing off anything he has done. Rather, he is trying to convince voters that his plans to invest in green-energy initiatives and rebuild aging bridges and roads have created jobs and helped Massachusetts fare better in the downturn than many other places. No matter what happens to Patrick, the results of that approach will prove instructive for Obama, whose popularity among independents has plummeted since he took office.

Patrick will also provide a test of whether an updated pitch for change will resonate. In accepting the Democratic nomination this summer, he introduced a campaign slogan that takes this on directly: "We worked hard four years ago to change the guard. Now it's time to guard the change."

Patrick is facing Republican Charlie Baker and Independent Tim Cahill, both of whom are slamming him for out-of-control spending. After a recent dip in the polls, the governor is currently leading by six to seven points:
 

Patrick credits some of his turnaround to Obama. Riding in the president's motorcade in Boston last fall, the two got to talking about the governor's campaign. Patrick told Obama he is ill at ease asking people for money or bragging. Obama looked out the window for a second, Patrick recalled, and then turned and said, "Deval, get over it."

So now, at campaign stops, Patrick says he focuses on why the economy is better here than elsewhere and the state's unemployment rate is 8.8 percent, below the national average.

Read the full story at the Washington Post.

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Nicole Allan is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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