Governor Patrick faces an uphill battle in his bid for reelection in 2010, largely due to voters' perceptions of how he has handled the state's economy. Recent polls show him trailing his Republican challengers, despite the fact that registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in Massachusetts 3 to 1.
At a fundraising luncheon Friday, the president said, "I want everybody to understand this: What happens in Massachusetts is going to have implications all across the country."
Mr. Obama, who still enjoys high favorability ratings in Massachusetts, said Washington lawmakers, in particular, will be looking to the Bay State next November.
"Frankly, people on Capitol Hill, they watch the tea leaves," he said. If they see a governor get tossed out who is implementing universal healthcare and progressive education initiatives, he added, they'll be less likely to support those initiatives themselves, according to Politico.
But if the governor loses his reelection bid, it will probably have more to do with the state's economy than healthcare or education.
Patrick campaigned in 2006 on issues such as property-tax relief and a better-run state government.
Only 28 percent of respondents approve of Patrick's handling of the economy, according to recent polls. A separate poll shows that only 29 percent of registered voters said they were in favor of Patrick serving a second term, according to Suffolk University.
Prior to the luncheon, Patrick had raised just over $520,000 – the lowest of all the state's gubernatorial candidates – despite his advantage as the incumbent. State Treasurer Timothy Cahill, a former Democrat who is running for governor as an independent, has banked more than $3 million.
Obama's visit comes just a month after Patrick signed an amendment to Massachusetts law to allow the governor to appoint an interim senator to occupy the late Ted Kennedy's Senate seat until the Jan. 19 special election. The move preserved Democrats' filibuster-proof 60-seat majority in the Senate, which will be crucial in upcoming healthcare reform votes.
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