With less than three months before the start of primary season, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has decided to put his hat in the ring for the 2020 presidential nomination.
In making his announcement, the 63-year-old two-term governor maintained that he was making his bid “with a determination to build a better, more sustainable, more inclusive American dream for the next generation” and told CBS News this morning that he was confident that he would be able to “break through” the pack.
Earlier this year, Patrick, who most recently operated an impact fund as a managing director at Boston-based Bain Capital, told a group of high-powered executives—among others—that he had no intentions of seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, maintaining a position that he has held since December 2018. He was reportedly encouraged to run by his inner circle of advisers and now joins an already crowded field of 17 other presidential contenders, which is also expected to soon include former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. His inclusion comes at a time when a number of Democrats have raised concerns about the viability of the current crop of candidates, including front runners Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Pete Buttigieg, and whether they have the sharp message and political chops to defeat Donald Trump in next year’s election.
Patrick represents the fourth African American candidate to enter the contest in an election in which the black vote will prove to be critical in the upcoming primaries and general election next fall. So far the campaigns of Sens. Kamala Harris and Cory Booker have lost considerable momentum and failed to ignite enthusiasm among large numbers of African American supporters, while many Americans aren’t even aware of long-shot candidate Wayne Messam, mayor of Miramar, Florida. Biden had a vice-like grip on black support—as much as 40% of that voting bloc in recent polls—largely due to his service as former President Barack Obama’s vice president.
A native of Southside Chicago and graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Patrick has made his own political history. The first black governor of Massachusetts, he also represents one of two African Americans ever elected to the statehouse. (The other was former Virginia Governor L. Douglas Wilder). During his professional career, he has been an attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, held senior executive positions at a couple of the nation’s largest corporations and served a stint as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the Clinton administration. During his term—from 2007-2015—Patrick, a close ally of Obama, implemented healthcare reform (which had been enacted by his predecessor Mitt Romney in 2006), raised the state’s minimum wage, and increased spending for education, among other achievements.
According to CNBC, Patrick is expected to be challenged by the most progressive Democratic contenders Warren and Sanders, who have focused on income inequality and boosting taxes for the wealthy, about his role with Bain Capital, one of the nation’s leading investment firms.