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Mass. Dems Rev Up Loyalists At State Convention

Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick attends his party's annual convention with a single mission in mind — lighting a fire under those voters who propelled his long shot victory four years ago.

To harness that energy, Patrick needs to buck up core Democratic loyalists shaken by the state's stubborn fiscal slump and a resurgent Republican party energized by Scott Brown's surprise victory in the special election to fill the late Edward Kennedy's U.S. Senate seat.

A lot has changed since Patrick's first win.

In 2006, Patrick was the charismatic outsider whose stump speeches electrified audiences, allowing him to surge ahead of better-known Democratic candidates and handily defeat the Republican candidate, Kerry Healey, to make history as the state's first black governor.

Four years later, Patrick has been battered by events both inside and outside of his control. A series of early gaffes, including a decision to upgrade the governor's official car from a Ford Crown Victoria to a flashy Cadillac sedan, helped scrub some of that initial glow.

Patrick also faced tough decisions as the state tumbled into the worst recession since the Great Depression. The decision to balance the state budget in part through new taxes tarnished Patrick's popularity even more.

By April, Patrick found himself in an unenviable position as an incumbent.

One poll showed only 34 percent of voters approving of his job as governor. The same poll showed him with a slim lead over his two main opponents - independent Tim Cahill and Republican Charles Baker.

Since then, Patrick has rebounded a bit. He's stepped up his campaigning and his handling of a major water main blowout gave him a chance to spotlight his role as state leader.

Those factors, coupled with an increasingly bitter fight between Cahill and Baker, helped Patrick open up a double-digit lead on his two major rivals in a poll released at the end of last month.

Patrick has also boosted his fundraising. He crossed the $1 million mark in May, but still trails Baker, with $2.3 million, and Cahill, who has about $3.4 million in his campaign account.

While Patrick is the main attraction at the convention, there are Democratic primary contests for auditor and treasurer. Candidates must win the support of at least 15 percent of convention delegates to secure a place on the September primary ballot.

The most crowded is the race to replace Democratic state Auditor Joseph DeNucci who is not seeking re-election.

The Democratic contest includes former Patrick administration Labor Secretary Suzanne Bump, Worcester County Sheriff Guy Glodis and political newcomer Mike Lake, executive director of Northeastern's World Class Cities Partnership.

Two Republicans, Mary Connaughton and Kamal Jain are also vying for the auditor's office.

The treasurer's race pits former Democratic National Committee Chairman Steve Grossman against Democratic Boston City Councilor Steve Murphy.

Whoever wins will face off against Republican candidate Karyn Polito.

Democratic Secretary of State William Galvin faces no Democratic challenger and will square off against Republican William Campbell in November.

Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley is running unopposed.

Patrick had faced a potential challenge from within the party, but community activist Grace Ross failed to collect enough signatures to secure a place on the ballot.

The convention will also include a tribute to the late Sen. Kennedy.

There will be at least one former Democrat at the convention.

Cahill, who left the party to run as an independent and avoid a costly, and potentially losing, primary battle against Patrick has pledged to shake the hands of convention-goers outside the hall.

Cahill did the same at the Republican convention.

This program aired on June 5, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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