With campaign season over, Gov. Patrick shifts focus to the state
BOSTON (AP) -- Gov. Deval Patrick is again facing the more mundane tasks of managing state government after spending time on the campaign trail this year stumping for President Barack Obama and Democratic U.S. Sen.-elect Elizabeth Warren.
Following those twin victories, Patrick is also trying to tamp down speculation about his future plans.
For Patrick, the past year offered a chance to raise his national profile.
The governor defended Obama on television news shows, created his own political action committee, crisscrossed the country to rally the party’s foot soldiers and urged fellow Democrats to "grow a backbone" during a rousing speech at the Democratic National Convention.
To cap it off, Patrick celebrated Obama’s win with a dinner with the president at the White House on Friday.
That dinner, combined with Patrick’s relationship with the president, has fueled speculation that he could be in line for a cabinet position despite his pledge to serve out his term as governor, which ends in January 2015.
Asked last week what role he would play in a second Obama term, Patrick said, "Any role I am asked to play so long as I don’t have to leave my current job."
Pressed on his future plans, Patrick added: "I don’t have any plans ... I was all in for this president."
Patrick has no shortage of challenges facing him in Massachusetts including two evolving crises.
There’s the nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak linked to a steroid distributed by Framing ham-based New England Compounding Center. The outbreak has sickened more than 400 people and caused more than 30 deaths.
There’s also the testing scandal at a former state drug lab that threatens to unravel thousands of criminal cases.
Patrick has already asked state Inspector General Glenn Cunha to take over the drug lab review and ordered state pharmacy regulators to conduct surprise inspections of compounding pharmacies.
Patrick is also facing new warning signs in the state’s economy.
Massachusetts’ unemployment rate crept up from 6 percent in June to 6.5 percent in September, and tax collections have fallen below predictions for four straight months.
Patrick has said his other priorities include expanding job growth in Massachusetts, investing in education and infrastructure projects and finalizing a transportation financing proposal.
"We’re busy," he said.