Guest on quest to oust Patrick

GOP’s Barbour brings attack ad to Massachusetts

Governors (from left) Phil Bredesen of Tennessee, Deval Patrick, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Bob McDonnell of Virginia chatted outside the State House. Governors (from left) Phil Bredesen of Tennessee, Deval Patrick, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Bob McDonnell of Virginia chatted outside the State House. (Michael Dwyer/Associated Press)
By Noah Bierman
Globe Staff / July 10, 2010

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Governor Deval Patrick welcomed governors from around the country to Boston yesterday for the kickoff of a National Governors Association conference. But one of them came with an unusual gift for the host: an attack ad urging Patrick’s ouster.

The Republican Governors Association, led by Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi, released the anti-Patrick ad just two hours after Patrick officially opened the summit, a collegial confab that Barbour is attending along with 35 other governors.

Barbour’s 15-second television ad accuses Patrick of “wasteful spending, higher taxes, fewer jobs’’ and reminds viewers that he has not ruled out another tax increase.

At a State House press conference, the governors stressed the bipartisan nature of the conference, which features policy-rich sessions on “achieving a sustainable health care system’’ and “interoperable communications and information sharing.’’

But partisanship was on the agenda, too.

Patrick, asked about the Republican Governors Association’s already deep involvement in the governor’s race before the latest ads were unveiled, called Barbour a friend, and said he would convey his distaste for negative ads to him during the weekend gathering.

“He is a stone-cold partisan, you know, and I intend to tease him a little bit about it,’’ Patrick said. “I don’t think this kind of campaigning is good for democracy.’’

The Republican Governors Association, in support of GOP hopeful Charles D. Baker, has been active in Massachusetts, running more than $1 million of ads against independent candidate Timothy P. Cahill, the state treasurer, for several weeks in the spring.

The group launched another anti-Cahill ad yesterday, which Cahill said was evidence of “the difficulty [Baker’s] candidacy is having in finding a message and getting elected on his own merit.’’

Yesterday, Barbour called the messages “just factual ads about spending, about the way the patronage system operates.’’

He told State House News Service that “people can make the decision about whether that’s what they want from their next governor.’’

A spokesman for the group, which by law cannot coordinate with Baker’s campaign, said the new ads were not timed to Barbour’s arrival in Boston. He said the ad buy would be substantial, but would not specify how much it would cost or how long it would run.

“We’ve had a plan about how we would approach Massachusetts for many months now, and we’re sticking with that plan,’’ said Tim Murtaugh, the spokesman, who pointed out that the Democratic Governors Association ran ads on behalf of Patrick four years ago.

Patrick is hoping the conference will help him showcase the state and give the city a small economic jolt. The agenda includes a few social events, including a gathering at Fenway Park last night with corporate sponsors.

It also provides a venue for protests. Last night, more than 1,000 police officers from Boston and other communities descended on Fenway Park to protest Patrick, who has angered police unions by cutting the Quinn Bill program, a pay-incentive program for police, and replacing detail officers with civilian flaggers at some construction sites.

The officers kept up steady chants of “Together we can dump Deval!’’ as Patrick’s guests exited Peter Pan buses.

Thomas J. Nee, president of the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association, which has endorsed Cahill, said the protest was not “exclusively’’ about civilian flaggers and the Quinn Bill.

“It’s the fact that law enforcement has no place at the table in his administration,’’ he said, adding that Patrick has not done enough to prevent police layoffs.

Kyle Sullivan, Patrick’s spokesman, said: “We understand that police unions are not happy with the governor’s reform of using civilian flaggers at state road construction sites where safe. But we are simply joining every other state in this common-sense practice and it has already saved the state over $12 million.’’

Today, protesters plan to target Governor Jan K. Brewer of Arizona, who signed her state’s controversial immigration law.

Travis Andersen of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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