Love it or hate it, moved here from there or have to commute there every morning, Massachusetts is a looming presence in New Hampshire. So Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is an influential politician for people on both sides of our southern border. In 2010 he became the first African-American governor to win re-election in U.S. history.Patrick is not the first Bay State governor to live free and dive into New Hampshire lake waters, specifically Squam Lake, but he did that decades before gubernatorial predecessor Mitt Romney set up camp on the shores of the big lake in Wolfeboro. In April, Patrick released his memoir, "A Reason to Believe - Lessons from an Improbable Life" [Broadway Books, 2011]. The book is rich with revelations. For instance, you probably didn't know Patrick's father, who deserted the family when Deval was 4, once performed with such jazz greats as Thelonious Monk and Sun Ra.We all know now that you are married to Diane, but while doing fellowship work in Africa, one of the locals offered you a wife and more ... (laughs) That's right. Livestock. There was no livestock that came with Diane.Why was Squam Lake such an important marker in your younger life? I made an eternal friend in Will Speers at Milton Academy whose family has been going up to Squam Lake for three or four generations. He took me there because it was important to him. It's a really extraordinary place.Is mayonnaise still your code word for beer? (laughs) The first time we went (to Squam Lake) we were students at Milton Academy. We were 16 and 17, and we had backpacks full of supplies. We were going to spend a long weekend at a fishing cabin that Will's family owned and you had to hike in about a mile or a mile and a half on an unplowed road and cut a hole in the ice for water. This was not a thing a kid from the south side of Chicago was accustomed to but we had to bring a few things to fortify us. So bouncing around in our backpacks were bottles of beer and the gentleman who picked us up and drove us out to the end of the road asked us what was going on back there and we said it was just mayonnaise.Do you think New Hampshire is still important in the presidential process? The first presidential campaign I was really close to was President Obama's campaign and so we spent a lot of time in New Hampshire. The intimacy of the campaign is really something. As someone who really believes in grassroots campaigning, it's important to be out with the voters and not just talking to them but listening to them. I think that New Hampshire is an enormously important model.What does your political future hold? I'm going to finish this term then I'm going back into private life. I set out to do two terms. There are some specific things that I'm committed to accomplishing and I needed a second term to finish those. I'm looking forward to returning to the private sector, which I miss on pay day.
This article appears in the June 2011 issue of New Hampshire Magazine