In a significant but thoroughly unsurprising development, Deval Patrick has been declared the next governor of Massachusetts, marking the first time since 1986 that a Democrat has won the governorship of what may be the bluest state in the nation. Patrick, who headed up the Civil Rights division of the Justice Department under Bill Clinton and who later served as an executive with Texaco and Coca-Cola, will become only the second black governor in American history. Given his relative youth (51 years old) and magnetic personality, he figures to emerge as a nationally-significant leader.
The two other black gubernatorial nominees– Republicans Ken Blackwell in Ohio and Lynn Swann in Pennsylvania — have both lost their bids handily. And in Connecticut, M. Jodi Rell, the Republican who succeeded John Rowland two years ago, has won a full four-year term, defeating New Haven Mayor John DiStefano. The suspense in Connecticut is whether her coattails will boost the state’s three endangered GOP House incumbents — Christopher Shays, Nancy Johnson and Rob Simmons.