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Deval, DiMasi debated at Mass. Dem meeting

Brian Wright O’Connor | 6/10/2009, 5:48 a.m.

The good news for Patrick is that without a strong challenger to harp on such missteps as new drapes for his office, a luxury SUV at his disposal and the botched appointment of former state Sen. Marian Walsh to a well-paid state post that had gone unfilled for half a generation, Democratic voters have nowhere else to go.

State Rep. Willie Mae Allen, D-Mattapan, a convention delegate and a member of the Democratic State Committee since 1982, brushed aside criticism of the governor and pledged her support for his re-election.

“I believe the governor has used solid judgment to make decisions in the best interest of our Commonwealth and has made a sincere effort to reach out to our community,” she said.

Melissa Fuller, a 22-year-old graduate student from Mattapan working as a convention volunteer, agreed with Allen.

“I think he’s doing a great job and deserves re-election even if there are many things he’s done that people disagree with,” she said. “He has a very positive presence and in spite of the difficulties, he’ll continue to inspire people.”

A negative note was sounded over the weekend by the Rev. Eugene Rivers, the firebrand Pentecostal preacher who challenged Patrick to agree to a series of debates to review his record on four issues key to the black community — CORI reform, stimulus spending, public safety and judicial appointments.

According to Rivers, who frequently broke bread with the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives in the Bush White House, Patrick has fallen short of pushing through reforms to the criminal offender registry; failed to adequately steer federal stimulus money to communities of color; done little to stem the rising tide of youth violence; and, by his own admission, compiled an abysmal record of minority appointments to the state bench, with just two minorities named to 29 judicial vacancies since he took office.

“Frankly, he gets somewhere between a D and an F on all four policy areas,” said Rivers. “On the basis of his performance to date, there is no rational basis for voting for Deval Patrick for re-election.”

But with the broader electorate more focused on scandals involving the unholy triangle of lobbyists, legislators and lucre, political analysts like Joyce Ferriabough believe the governor will win by sticking to his pledge to reform the pension system, strengthen ethics and lobbying rules, and improve the state’s transportation network.

“I think he’ll be re-elected,” said Ferriabough. “Now is the toughest time to govern, but I’m proud of the way the governor is sticking to his guns around reforming the way business is done on Beacon Hill.”