Deval Patrick Joins Crowded Democratic Presidential Race, But Will It Matter?

Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick threw his hat into the presidential ring on November 14, becoming the 27th Democrat to vie for the party’s nomination. Patrick announced his candidacy after days of speculation in a video that claimed his campaign was for people who “feel left out.”

In his announcement video , Patrick said that he has seen the path to the American dream “gradually closing off, bit by bit.” He noted that Americans across the U.S. are feeling anxious and angry, with a sense that the government and economy are letting them down.

“I admire and respect the candidates in the Democratic field,” Patrick said. “They bring a richness of ideas and experience and a depth of character that makes me proud to be a Democrat. But if the character of the candidates is an issue in every election, this time is about the character of the country.”

In his first interviews following his announcement, Patrick took shots at the leading contenders for the Democratic nomination: former Vice President Joe Bide, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

“We seem to be migrating to, on the one camp, sort of nostalgia, let’s just get rid, if you will, of the incumbent president and we can go back to doing what we used to do,” Patrick told CBS News. “Or, you know, it’s our way, our big idea, or no way. And neither of those, it seems to me, seizes the moment to pull the nation together and bring some humility that — frankly — we have a lot of ideas, but no one candidate, no one party has a corner on all the best ideas.”

Earlier in November, former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg also appeared to position himself for a late jump into the race.

Why Patrick’s Decision Is Important Patrick previously claimed that a 2020 run for the White House was not in the cards for him, citing the “cruelty of our election process” and noting its potential effect on his loved ones.

However, the former governor now “doesn’t think any of the candidates running have established political momentum and that he thinks there is an opening for somebody who can unite both liberals and moderate Democrats,” party leaders who have spoken to Patrick toldThe New York Times.

The new Democratic candidate is far from being ideologically liberal. In an interview with the Times, Patrick broke down some of his policy stances.

  • He does not support “Medicare for all,” but does support a “public option”

  • He believes that a wealth tax on America’s riches citizens makes sense, but instead supports a “much, much simpler tax system for everyone.”

  • He is in favor of eliminating or vastly reducing student loan debt, but says there are other strategies the country could pursue

  • Following the Sandy Hook shooting, Patrick called for stricter gun laws, including a proposal to block gun owners from buying more than one firearm within 30 days. He also called for a renewal of a ban on assault weapons, MassLive reported.

  • Patrick’s campaign website also states he advocates for a “justice system that focuses less on warehousing people than on preparing them to re-enter responsible life.” As governor, Patrick introduced reforms aimed at helping inmates re-enter society and provide better treatment for people with substance abuse problems, according to MassLive.

His campaign is likely to have some influence on the leading candidates, but his late entry into the race could doom his campaign before it really kicks off.

“If running for president is a Hail Mary under any circumstances, this is like a Hail Mary from two stadiums over,” Patrick said while filing in New Hampshire, according to Politico. What Patrick’s Candidacy Could Mean for Biden, Warren and Sanders Boris Heersink, an assistant professor of politics at Fordham University, toldThe North Star that Patrick’s late entry into the race is an indication that the former governor and other moderate Democrats are not satisfied with Biden’s campaign.

“In that regard, you might expect some of Biden’s supporters to jump ship,” Heersink said. “However, Biden is still much better known than Patrick, has more campaign resources, and likely will continue to get more media attention.”

Heersink noted that he doesn’t expect supporters of Warren or Sanders to switch alliances and support Patrick.

Patrick has a history of working with several big corporations, including Coca Cola and Texaco. After leaving office, Patrick joined private equity firm Bain Capital, which was co-founded by his gubernatorial predecessor Mitt Romney (R). The New York Times reported that Patrick’s ties to Bain Capital have led to criticisms from liberals as well as the Republican National Committee.

Critics on the left have questioned how a “private equity guy” thinks he can win the nomination, when progressive proposals like wealth taxes are proving popular.

Also worth considering is that Patrick entered the race with less than three months until the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. Patrick is “considerably behind in building up campaign organizations in the early states — most notably Iowa and New Hampshire,” Heersink said.

Heersink told The North Star that Patrick will also not be participating in the next Democratic primary debate and it remains unclear if he will qualify for the following debate. Patrick will need to get donations from at least 200,000 people, with 800 of them from 20 different states, and reach 4 percent in four polls or 6 percent in two early-state polls from October 16 through December 12, according to NPR.

Patrick’s Massachusetts Legacy

  • Patrick became governor of Massachusetts after Mitt Romney in 2007. He would go on to serve two terms until 2015.

  • Although the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court legalized gay marriage in the state years before Patrick took office, he signed a bill in July 2008 that repealed a 1913 law that banned gay couples from marrying in Massachusetts if gay marriage was illegal in their home state, The Boston Globe reported.

  • Patrick eliminated the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and reorganized the state’s transportation system when he signed a bill into law in June 2009. The new bill got rid of a pension perk that would allow Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) workers to retire with 57 percent of their salary after 23 years.

  • In January 2011, Patrick announced an overhaul of the parole board panel after an inmate released the previous year killed a police officer. According to The Boston Globe, Patrick tightened parole eligibility requirements, which prompted the percentage of parole-eligible inmates released from prison to drop from 58 percent to 39 percent in the span of a year.

  • In 2014, Patrick faced intense criticism after he fired the Sex Offender Registry Board chairwoman and placed the executive director on leave because they pressured a hearing officer to keep Patrick’s brother-in-law, Bernard Sigh, on the registry. Sigh was convicted in California in 1993 of raping his wife, Patrick’s sister, the Boston Herald reported. However, hearing officer Attilio Paglia ruled that the “like offense” in Massachusetts to California’s spousal rape was not rape, but indecent assault and battery. Therefore, Sigh was eligible to be removed from the registry, according to court records cited by the Herald. The hearing officer also determined Sigh was no longer dangerous and should not have to register as a sex offender.

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About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia, Australia and the Americas.