Thursday, 4:30 PM
Former Governor King is dead at 81
(AP Photo, File)
Former Massachusetts Governor Edward J. King is seen in this 1978, file photo in Boston. King died today.
By Mark Feeney, Globe Staff
Edward J. King, whose victory over incumbent Governor Michael S. Dukakis in the 1978 state Democratic primary was one of the great upsets in Massachusetts political history and set up a storied rematch, when Mr. King lost to Dukakis four years later, died today from injuries he suffered during a fall earlier this month. He was 81.
Mr. King had three brain surgeries this year. He twice had emergency surgery to relieve pressure from blood pooling near his brain after a fall at his Miami area home in February, an incident that required 24 days in the hospital.
He required heavy sedation after brain surgery again this month following a fall at the family's Middleton home.
His son, Timothy King, said his father was "a wonderful example of how to be a good person and how to be successful." Funeral arrangements were pending, he said.
Mr. King was a Reagan Democrat before the term existed. Indeed, President Ronald Reagan called King his favorite Democratic governor and was on hand to offer congratulations when Mr. King switched to the Republican Party, in 1985.
Mr. King favored capital punishment, opposed abortion, and cut spending on social programs. He strongly promoted economic growth, even at the expense of environmental and social concerns. A friend to both labor and management, he saw job creation as the primary engine for social as well as economic progress.
"Make It in Massachusetts" became the motto of Mr. King's administration. It reflected a top-down, can-do approach that had earned him considerable success and considerable criticism during his 11 years as executive director of the Massachusetts Port Authority.
"A growing, vital economy provides new opportunities for fulfilling work," Mr. King said in his inaugural address, "opens doors for the unskilled and underprivileged and it closes doors against want and frustration." Those words were emblematic of his philosophy as governor.
Governor Mitt Romney released a written statement shortly after Mr. King's death that said that Massachusetts had lost a friend.
“Governor King served with distinction and dignity," Romney said. "I valued his advice and counsel, both during my campaign and during my term as Governor ... He changed parties, but never principles."
Material from the Associated Press was also used in this report.