Embittered in Defeat Three Years Ago, Cape Cod Politician Wants another Bite of the Apple

Thursday, March 6, 2014

There’s nothing like the thought of the Massachusetts Senate, I guess, to change some men’s minds and raise their hopes.  Take Matt Patrick, for example.

On December 17, 2010, roughly three years and three months ago, Patrick gave his farewell speech on the floor of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.  He’d lost his recent attempt to win a sixth term as a rep from Cape Cod. 

Patrick, to his credit, chose not to deliver the standard remarks on that occasion – you know, the boilerplate that has to do with how much the departing lawmaker has enjoyed his service at the State House, how highly he has esteemed his colleagues, how much he has treasured their camaraderie and support, how he is certain to look back fondly years hence, through the mists of time, on these, his marvelous, marvelous days, in service to the public, etc. 

Rather, Patrick offered some very candid comments on how damn frustrating it can be when you’re just one of the crowd in the House.  Kyle Cheney, a reporter for the State House News Service, was there to capture this rather unique moment for posterity.
“If you play your cards right, vote the right way, keep your criticisms to yourself, you have a chance of becoming a chairperson of a committee,” Patrick said.

(Then eventually), he said, “You find yourself not participating in debates, not even listening, because you and everyone else knows what the outcome will be.  It’s preordained.  You continue to play the game until one day you find out that some lobbyists have more influence than you, and you ask yourself, ‘Is that right?’  Or you find out that your bill has been sidelined by someone quietly without explanation, or you are asked to vote for something you oppose…It’s a system that has evolved over the decades and it is all we know.”
Though Patrick bravely dispensed with clichés at his curtain call, I can’t help but toss one his way now: Time heals all wounds. 

How else to account for Patrick’s energetic return to the public arena?
Not only is he back in the game, he’s shooting for a much bigger prize than the last time he faced the voters in November, 2010, when they took his House seat and gave it to his townsman David Vieira, a Republican.

Matt Patrick has just entered the race to succeed Senate President Therese Murray, who’s finishing up her allotted eight years as Senate leader and will end her historic run at the State House in early January, 2015. 
Patrick’s old House district encompasses five precincts in Falmouth, four precincts in Bourne and the entire town of Mashpee.  Murray’s Senate district is many times larger, including all of Plymouth -- the largest community, geographically, in Massachusetts -- and all of Pembroke, Kingston, Bourne, Sandwich and Falmouth.

When Patrick was interviewed earlier this week by the Cape Cod Times, he said that one of the lessons he’d taken from his loss to Vieira was: “Don’t hold back.”
I’m a sucker for that let-me-at-em kind of talk.  I love it when our public officials go all Harry Truman on us.  Patrick, who has staunchly defended the environment in his current role as executive director of the Westport River Watershed Alliance, no doubt means it. 

That does not mean he won’t hold back from speaking of preordained legislative outcomes, floor debates one can’t help but ignore, and crafty lobbyists who get the drop on you.

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