Patrick was a Democratic activist, corporate attorney and former official in President Bill Clinton’s Justice Department when he hit the campaign trail in 2005, running against Attorney General Tom Reilly and businessman Chris Gabrieli in the primary.
“He was prepared. He knew he wanted to do it. You had to be. It was such a seemingly long shot, and the amount of work it took to get elected,” said Patrick chief of staff Brendan Ryan, who started on the campaign at the age of 23 first as a fundraiser and then as Patrick’s driver and all-around political aide.
Describing the relentless schedule, Ryan said, “I can remember four days in 18 months where we had nothing during that first campaign: Christmas, Thanksgiving, his birthday and one random blizzard. And those were literally the only days that time when there was nothing.”
Walsh said he met with the candidate for tea and laid out the challenges that he thought would prevent him from attaining the highest state office in Massachusetts, a state of 6.6 million people.
“You’re really starting from scratch, and by the way you’re black and we’ve only have one black person elected governor in the history of the United States of America,” Walsh said he told Patrick. Citing Patrick’s support of Cape Wind, the offshore wind energy project that was opposed by the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy and is currently gathering investors, Walsh said Patrick was “willing to lose” and determined to share his vision.
“There was nobody in Massachusetts who was willing to buck Ted Kennedy on Cape Wind,” said Walsh, who said he was drawn to Patrick by “an energy level and a spark that really comes off him right away that makes you say, this guy’s different.”
Patrick captivated Democratic activists who helped speed him to victory. But the early days of his administration were so beset by controversies over his renovating the executive suite and upgrading the governor’s car to a Cadillac, that Patrick said, “Oh yeah, we screwed up,” and pledged to pay for the new drapes, furniture and new car. Eventually, he asked residents not to give up on him.