Patrick, NU sophomore claim election spoils

Patrick, NU sophomore claim election spoils

By Ricky Thompson and Anne Baker

It was more than politics as usual on Huntington Avenue as the campaign season wound into Election Day over the past week.

Democrat Deval Patrick defeated three challengers in a landslide victory yesterday to become the first African-American governor of Massachusetts. Closer to home – and at the collegiate level – sophomore political science major Jeff Fontas was elected to the New Hampshire State House. He will represent Nashua’s 6th ward and Hillsborough County’s 24th district.

“I’m ecstatic,” Fontas said last night at a post-election party at the Crowne Plaza in Nashua after a day of greeting voters at his district’s polling place.

A native of Nashua, N.H., Fontas will go on co-op between January and June, and he said he thinks he will be able to work a co-op job and serve his position.

Patrick was also enthusiastic when accepting his new position.

“This was not a victory just for me. This was not a victory just for Democrats. This was a victory for hope,” Patrick said in his acceptance address last night at the Hynes Convention Center. “And we won it the old-fashioned way – we earned it.”

His win comes on the heels of the final gubernatorial debate of the race, held last Wednesday at New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall, just a few blocks from Northeastern.

Throngs of supporters gathered outside the famed concert hall and lined each side of Huntington Avenue, some carrying red and blue signs supporting Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey, the Republican candidate for governor. Patrick’s supporters carried blue and white signs on the opposite side of the street.

In the debate, Healey accused Patrick of being dishonest about his past experience as a prosecutor while Patrick lashed back about Healey’s campaign tactics as each of the candidates vied to win voters in the 11th hour of the race.

Last Friday, Patrick, a former assistant to the attorney general in the Clinton administration, and Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) came together at the Reggie Lewis Athletic Center in Roxbury.

The two spoke to a captivated audience primarily comprised of college students from schools around the Boston area, including Harvard University, Brandeis University and Boston College, as well as Northeastern.

Obama, despite being a first-term senator, has recently given more credence to speculation that he may consider a run for the presidency in 2008.

The Northeastern College Democrats turned out for the event, as they have for many of the campaign’s activities. Chapter president Josh Robin said a victory for Deval Patrick topped off a good recruiting season.

“We’ve had a very strong fall,” said the sophomore political science major. “We have 100 to 150 people involved. It’s very exciting.”

Students waiting to hear the two speak grooved to Bob Marley’s “One Love” and Sly and the Family Stone’s “Everyday People,” consistent with Patrick’s theme of togetherness. Audience members waited for more than an hour to hear the pair speak, and from their cheering, seemed to feel it was worth the wait.

Obama spoke first, and described his personal relationship with Patrick, testifying to his ability to fill the role of governor of Massachusetts. He also spoke about the inspiration behind his book, “The Audacity of Hope.”

Patrick spoke of a shift in how politics is played out in real life, declaring: “It will not be business as usual anymore.”

He discussed the need to cross party lines and work together on issues, saying Republicans and Democrats need not agree on everything to cooperate on the things they do.

The message apparently carried, as Patrick took the governorship with an estimated 56 percent of the vote, according to media reports as of press time.

Robin said the speech made him believe in Obama as a viable candidate for president in 2008.

“If Barack Obama runs for president, I’ll support him,” he said.

In addition to the major candidates, independent candidate Christy Mihos and Green-Rainbow candidate Grace Ross also vied for student votes.

“For the future of regular folks, there’s only one person who’s on that and it’s me,” Ross said in an interview last Sunday with The News. “So you know, if it’s somebody who’s not me, we’ll go back to politics as usual.”

– Staff writer Jordan Novet contributed to this report. –>

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