Sunday, October 22

Touching on everything from education, to showing a little love for the Berkshires, to the negative ads launched by his Republican opponent, Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, Democratic candidate for governor Deval L. Patrick wowed his supporters with a rousing address at his only campaign stop in the county last night.

After a heartfelt introduction by Democratic candidate for state Senate Benjamin B. Downing, who said that "many tiny ripples can send the biggest wave right to Boston," Patrick arrived at the podium amidst loud cheers and applause.

"What can I say?" Patrick said to Downing. "I look forward to serving with you."

The event, which raised $80,000 for Patrick's campaign, took place at Interprint's offices on Route 41 and was hosted by the Democratic organization Berkshire Brigades. The event was open to the public and admission was $50.

"I've heard it said that a little love goes a long way outside of (Route) 128," Patrick told the crowd. "And you have a lot of love for me."

Calling Governor Mitt Romney one in "a long line of recreational governors," Patrick, who is building a second house in Richmond, vowed to be "governor of the whole state."

Berkshire County Democrats have heard that line countless times in the final weeks before many, many election days, but Susanna Opper, a longtime Patrick supporter from Alford, insists that her candidate will deliver the goods.

"He's real," she said firmly. "I met him before he even announced his candidacy. I knew immediately that his enthusiasm was totally genuine."

Patrick kept the comments about his opponent barb-free, and he made it clear that he wasn't a man to roll in the mud.

"We're not taking it down there," he said. "We're not gonna hit back."

"She's a decent person running the nastiest campaign," he added, referring obliquely to the Healey campaign's graphic television commercial that attacked Patrick's one-time support of accused rapist Benjamin LeGuer.

"I have represented the unsavory defendant," Patrick said, with emotion in his voice. "Somebody has to."

Turning the topic to the rising crime rate in the state, he noted that it was "easier for a convicted sex offender to get a gun than a job," and he blamed Romney and Healey for "changing the subject" and not addressing the issues.

Speaking directly to the handful of children who were sitting by the podium, Patrick mentioned that music, art, exercise and afterschool activities were key to educating the "whole child."

When he mentioned that longer school days were part of his plan for a state that ranks 47th in public education spending, he added that he made that same point to "700 middle schoolers in Marlborough, and I almost didn't get out alive."

Jonayah Jackson, a 16-year-old originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., was another voter-to-be in the audience. Like Patrick, a turning point came in her life when she won a scholarship from the nationally-funded A Better Chance organization and left the inner city for better educational opportunities.

Jackson attends Mount Greylock Regional High School and lives at ABC House in Williamstown.

"I agree with many of his views," Jackson said before Patrick took the stage.

Her young face went momentarily sour. "If only I could vote."