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August 1, 2013

Patrick passes Weld as longest serving governor since Dukakis

BOSTON — Gov. Deval Patrick turned 57 yesterday, but another significant number for that day was 2,401 — the number of days he has been in office — making him the longest serving Massachusetts governor since Michael Dukakis.

“That’s an exciting milestone,” said John Walsh, the departing state Democratic Party chairman, who helped secure Patrick’s first electoral victory in 2006. Walsh, who is returning to work for Patrick’s political operation, told the News Service, “I had to tell you that I’m spending more time looking forward than moving back.”

A successful lawyer who had never run for elected office when he beat Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey in 2006, Patrick broke a streak of 16 years of Republican control of the Corner Office. The Republican run witnessed four chief executives, one who served only as acting governor, while Patrick is set to finish out eight years of Democratic rule on his own.

Sixteen years ago Monday, Gov. Bill Weld, who was midway into his second term, handed the governorship over to the late Lt. Gov. Argeo Paul Cellucci as Weld pursued an ambassadorship to Mexico that was ultimately unsuccessful. Patrick yesterday passed Weld in continuous service as governor.

Attaining the office about a year before the nation and then the state fell into a major recession, Patrick raised taxes three times, imposed deep spending cuts while overseeing numerous government reform initiatives, oversaw implementation of the state’s groundbreaking 2006 health care law and became a figure of national importance such that he has had to beat back speculation of a bid for the presidency.

“I think people will see that he’s a guy who saw Massachusetts through the toughest time, and in the course of that brought us out strong,” Walsh said.

“The governor working with the Legislature deserves high marks for the handling of the state’s long and deep fiscal crisis,” said Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President Michael Widmer. “It was a very difficult period for any governor and Massachusetts performed much better than most of our comparable states.”

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