Private dinners at the White House. Rousing speeches to far-flung Democratic Party conclaves. A prime-time, nationally televised appearance at the party’s convention.
All that is now in Deval Patrick’s rearview mirror. Now the governor has returned to Massachusetts and is forced to give his full attention to the less glamorous world of the State House, where he faces a host of potentially explosive issues that will sorely challenge his ability to shape his legacy during the last two years of his governorship.
With scandals engulfing two state agencies, shuffling of key staff, severe fiscal problems, and the potential for a tax increase, Patrick will have to draw on his leadership skills to navigate what could be a hazardous political landscape.
“The blood is in the water, particularly with the budget gap,’’ said Thomas J. Whalen, a political historian and associate professor at Boston University. “Republicans and even people in his own party are going to pounce and go after him with charges he was neglecting his duties by being out of state so much during the campaign. That’s one of the easiest narratives for the public to understand and very effective in politics.’’
When the Legislature returns at the beginning of the year for its session, Patrick will have to confront lawmakers on political battles over spending cuts and a possible tax hike.
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