Vineyard Backs Deval Patrick

Following Commonwealth Trend, Island Democrats Throw Support to Gubernatorial Front-Runner in Hotly Contested Primary

By IAN FEIN

Dukes County voters mirrored the rest of the commonwealth and offered strong support for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Deval L. Patrick in the state primary election on Tuesday.

A corporate attorney and political newcomer in Massachusetts, Mr. Patrick captured half of the Democratic votes statewide, and two-thirds on the Vineyard, to convincingly defeat venture capitalist Christopher F. Gabrieli and state attorney general Thomas F. Reilly for the party nomination.

Mr. Patrick will now face current Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, who did not face a primary challenge for the Republican nomination, in the state election Nov. 7.

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Voters on the Vineyard, however, broke with the statewide trend in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor. Worcester mayor Timothy Murray outpaced his opponents with 43 per cent of the commonwealth vote to join Mr. Patrick on the party ticket, but on the Vineyard garnered only 18 per cent support. In fact, West Tisbury, Chilmark and Tisbury were three of the five towns in the state where Mr. Murray gathered the lowest percentage of Democratic votes.

Island voters preferred Harwich businesswoman Andrea Silbert (with 45 per cent support on the Vineyard) and former Brookline selectman Deborah Goldberg (37 per cent) for the lieutenant governor nomination. Statewide, Ms. Goldberg came in second with 34 per cent, and Ms. Silbert came in third with 23 per cent.

On the Republican ticket this fall, Ms. Healey is running with former Hampden County state Rep. Reed V. Hillman, who also did not face a primary challenge for the Republican lieutenant governor nomination.

Turnout across Massachusetts was the highest for any primary since 1990, driven largely by the three-way Democratic governor race - the most expensive gubernatorial primary campaign in state history. On the Vineyard, more than 2,700 people - or 22 per cent of registered voters - turned out at the polls on one of the warmest days of the month.

Though a majority of Island voters are not enrolled in any political party, those who cast Democratic primary ballots on Tuesday outnumbered Republican votes on the Vineyard by a margin of nearly 10-to-one. Only one person in Aquinnah voted in the Republican primary, compared to 77 who filled out Democratic ballots. Town clerk Carolyn Feltz echoed other Island election officials in saying the day went smoothly, and that she was pleased with the primary turnout.

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In the two contested Republican races for state and U.S. senate nominations, Dukes County voters were in step with the rest of Massachusetts.

For the U.S. seat, Kenneth Chase of Belmont earned the opportunity to face off against longtime Democratic incumbent Sen. Edward M. (Ted) Kennedy in the general election this fall. Mr. Chase narrowly edged Wakefield businessman Kevin Scott by only two percentage points statewide, but garnered stronger support on the Vineyard, with 56 per cent of the vote.

For the Cape and Islands state senate party nomination, Centerville attorney Ricardo Barros defeated Nantucket selectman Doug Bennett with 59 per cent of the vote, and will now challenge Democratic incumbent Sen. Robert O'Leary in the November election. Mr. Bennett lost by 10 percentage points on the Vineyard, but suffered a searing defeat on his own island, where Nantucket voters chose the Cape attorney over their own selectman by almost a four-to-one margin.

West Tisbury resident James Powell did not face a Republican primary race in his second bid for a state representative seat, and for the second time will face Democratic incumbent Rep. Eric T. Turkington in the state election this fall.

In another contested Democratic primary race, Cape and Islands voters went against the grain in selecting a nominee for the governor's council, an eight-member elected body that approves gubernatorial judicial appointments. Incumbent councillor Carole A. Fiola of Fall River fended off a primary challenge from Kelly Kevin Lydon of Barnstable. And though she carried the southeastern Massachusetts district with 56 per cent of the vote, the Vineyard and Nantucket chose Mr. Lydon instead. Ms. Fiola will now face Philip C. Paleologos, a Republican from New Bedford, this fall.

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Secretary of state William Francis Galvin also sailed to victory in his Democratic primary race, defeating John Bonifaz of Boston with 83 per cent of the vote statewide, and 79 per cent on the Vineyard. With no Republican candidate for the position, Mr. Galvin will seek to continue his 12-year tenure against Green-Rainbow candidate Jill Stein in the fall election.

The next seven weeks likely will see a grueling, divisive race for Massachusetts governor. On Tuesday night Mr. Patrick and Ms. Healey squared off against each other even before all of the primary votes had been counted. Independent candidate Christy Mihos and Green-Rainbow candidate Grace Ross also are running for governor, but are not expected to upset the two major party nominees.

The election may bring either the first female or first African-American to serve as governor of commonwealth. Mr. Patrick this week became the first African-American to secure a major party nomination for the state's highest post.

Massachusetts voters will also have a clear choice between the two party candidates. In Ms. Healey, they have an integral part of the Republican political establishment - the second in command under the current administration of Gov. Mitt Romney, who did not seek reelection and is widely assumed to be weighing a presidential run in 2008. Republicans have held the Massachusetts gubernatorial seat for the last 16 years.

In Mr. Patrick, they have a former U.S. justice department civil rights attorney who is running a grass-roots campaign as a political outsider.

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The proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm is shaping up to be a central issue in the gubernatorial race. As lieutenant governor, Ms. Healey has joined with other Romney officials in their staunch opposition to the Cape Wind proposal, while Mr. Patrick was the first gubernatorial candidate of any party to support the offshore renewable energy project. Mr. Patrick during his primary victory speech in Boston on Tuesday night took a swipe at the current administration's opposition to Cape Wind.

Before this week, some people speculated that Mr. Patrick's position on the wind farm might hurt his standing in the Cape region, where public opinion on the project is more divided than it is statewide. But Mr. Patrick on Tuesday swept every town on the Cape and Islands by a substantial margin.

Mr. Reilly, who as attorney general opposes the Cape Wind project, came in second among the three gubernatorial candidates in the region, but still saw less support here than he did statewide. Mr. Reilly garnered 19 per cent of the Vineyard vote, compared to Mr. Gabrieli's 15 per cent. Statewide, Mr. Gabrieli earned 27 per cent, compared to 23 per cent for Mr. Reilly.