Deval Patrick’s victory in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for governor thrilled supporters of the Nantucket Sound wind farm, who believe Patrick’s endorsement of the project can help get the turbines spinning.
Patrick’s nomination ensured the proposed Cape Wind project will become a major issue in the campaign leading up to the general election on Nov. 7. Patrick was the first gubernatorial candidate to support the wind farm, while the Republican nominee, Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, strongly opposes it.
Healey recently used Nantucket Sound as a backdrop to bash the wind farm. Independent candidate Christy Mihos, a Cape Cod convenience store magnate, also opposes Cape Wind.
Patrick criticized Healey’s opposition to the wind farm in his victory speech at a Boston hotel Tuesday night. ”We should talk about business growth, and how this administration touts its business friendly credentials while throwing up obstacles to stem cell research and Cape Wind, and standing by while 148,000 jobs and 60,000 people left our state,” Patrick said.
Wind farm supporters found much to cheer in Tuesday night’s election results.
Patrick won 50 percent of the vote in the statewide primary, and 53 percent of the tally on the Cape and Islands. Combined with Democrat Christopher Gabrieli, who also supported Cape Wind’s plans for Nantucket Sound, the two candidates captured 74 percent of the vote on the Cape and Islands.
Attorney General Tom Reilly, who came in a distant second on the Cape and Islands and third statewide, vigorously opposed the wind farm as attorney general and in his gubernatorial campaign.
”I think there were people on the Cape who felt that was part of the political conventional wisdom, that this was the third rail to come out in support of Cape Wind and it would harm you,” Cape Wind spokesman Mark Rodgers said. ”At the very least, that dispels this conventional wisdom.”
Charles Vinick, the chief executive officer of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, noted that Cape Wind was previously voted down in non-binding referendums in the towns of Nantucket and Mashpee. He said this year’s referendum in Nantucket was nearly 2-1 against the wind farm. ”This primary election was clearly not a referendum on Cape Wind in the Cape and Islands towns,” Vinick said, adding that Patrick had captured voters’ imaginations on a number of issues.
While the proposal to place 130 wind turbines on Nantucket Sound is under federal review, the Bay State governor still has clout as a lobbyist in Washington. The next governor will decide the fate of a proposed wind farm in Buzzards Bay because those waters fall under state jurisdiction, unlike the Cape Wind project.
Gov. Mitt Romney opposes Cape Wind. U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., unsuccessfully pushed for an amendment to a Coast Guard spending bill that would have given the Massachusetts governor a veto over Cape Wind.
”People noticed when Mitt Romney would go to Washington and lobby government officials there to try to block the Cape Wind project,” Rodgers said. ”He didn’t succeed because a lot of those officials and government agencies recognized that there was, number one, a lot of support in this state, and there is a process they are supposed to follow.”
The Healey campaign said the governor’s opposition was an important message to send to Washington. Should Cape Wind be approved, the next governor could also work with the attorney general to try to stop it in court.
”I support renewable energy, but Cape Wind is the wrong project in the wrong place,” Healey said yesterday in a statement released by her campaign. ”The governor must look out for the best interests of all our citizens, and I don’t see how turning over 24 square miles of Nantucket Sound to a private developer for the construction of a power plant qualifies as looking out for the people of Massachusetts.”
Patrick has said the Nantucket Sound wind farm would provide clean energy and make Massachusetts a national leader in the renewable energy industry.
By David Kibbe
Times Boston Bureau
David Kibbe can be reached at email@example.com.
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