Image: Patrick
Stephan Savoia  /  AP
Democrat Deval Patrick greets supporters Tuesday night at a rally in Boston.
updated 9/20/2006 12:46:30 AM ET 2006-09-20T04:46:30

Deval Patrick, a Democrat making his first run for elective office and a bid to become the state’s first black governor, beat two opponents in Tuesday’s gubernatorial primary to win a place in November’s general election.

Patrick, 50, headed the Justice Department’s civil rights division under President Clinton. He will face Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, the Republican nominee, in November.

In Washington state, freshman Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell, considered by some to be vulnerable in November, and her GOP challenger, Mike McGavick, easily defeated their little-known rivals in their respective primaries.

If Patrick wins the Massachusetts race, he would be just the second black elected governor in the United States, after L. Douglas Wilder of Virginia in 1989. However, no Democrat has been elected governor in this bluest of blue states since Michael Dukakis 20 years ago.

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In the primary, Boston venture capitalist Chris Gabrieli, 46, who spent more than $8 million of his own fortune on the campaign, was second, and state Attorney General Tom Reilly, once the prohibitive favorite, came in a distant third. With 88 percent of the precincts reporting, Patrick had 49 percent, Gabrieli had 27 percent and Reilly had 22 percent.

Patrick accused the current administration of starving public schools, standing idly by while violence soared on city streets and of ignoring problems with the Big Dig highway project until a tunnel ceiling collapsed, killing a Boston woman this summer.

“Make no mistake: This election is about whether we want more of all that, or lasting and meaningful change instead, about spinning our wheels or aiming high, about government by sound bites and slogans or leadership that strives to serve our long-term interests in stronger, safer and more prosperous communities,” Patrick said.

2006 key races

In Washington state, Cantwell, like Sen. Joe Lieberman in Connecticut, had faced a revolt from anti-war activists in her party. But she tried to distance herself from her vote in favor of the Iraq war, and she neutralized an anti-war rival by hiring him to join her campaign.

She was seen as the prohibitive favorite in the field of five Democrats. McGavick, a former insurance executive, was expected to roll over five GOP rivals.

With about 16 percent of the expected vote counted, Cantwell had a commanding 91 percent of the Democratic vote. Her closest Democratic competitor, anti-war activist and attorney Hong Tran, was far back at 4 percent.

The state generally leans Democratic, and Cantwell is favored in November.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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