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Rep. Frank backs Patrick for governor

US Representative Barney Frank endorsed Deval Patrick for governor yesterday, and took the opportunity to chastise Massachusetts Democrats for failing to support blacks for high office.

Frank, a Newton Democrat, said that so far this year, it is the Republicans who have nominated blacks from their party for governorships -- in Ohio and Pennsylvania -- as well as a US Senate seat in Maryland.

``Were Deval Patrick lacking in ability, or wrong on the issues, this would not count for anything," Frank said in a statement. ``But given the impressive qualities and insight he brings to this contest, then as Democrats I believe we should take into account the consequence of continuing a policy in which no African-American is ever nominated by us for any office higher than state Senate, as a matter of both fairness and enlightened self-interest."

Frank said Patrick ``best understands the importance of an ongoing commitment to fairness," which he said includes ``one very relevant factor, which everyone in the state understands but which too many are uncomfortable in discussing: race."

Patrick was the top civil rights official in the Clinton administration's Justice Department and had previously represented minority groups in class action lawsuits against predatory lenders.

Frank became the third of 10 members in the state's all-Democratic House delegation to declare his support for Patrick . Representatives James P. McGovern of Worcester and Michael E. Capuano of Somerville have also endorsed Patrick.

Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly, who along with businessman Chris Gabrieli is also seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, has received the backing of Representatives Marty Meehan of Lowell and Richard E. Neal of Springfield.

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