Deval Patrick Enters Presidential Race

Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has entered the race for the Democratic Presidential nomination

Just days after it was first reported that he was considering entering the race for the Democratic nomination for President, former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has entered the race for President:

Former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick on Thursday jumped into the Democratic presidential contest, asserting that he wanted to build “a better, more sustainable, more inclusive American Dream” and acknowledging the difficulty his late start creates in achieving that goal.

“I admire and respect the candidates in the Democratic field; they bring a richness of ideas and experience and a depth of character that makes me proud to be a Democrat,” he said in a video released Thursday. “But if the character of the candidates is an issue in every election, this time is about the character of the country. This time is about whether the day after the election, America will keep her promises.

“This time is about more than removing an unpopular and divisive leader, as important as that is, but about delivering instead for you.”

In a morning interview with CBS, Patrick appeared to knock former vice president Joe Biden as out of touch and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, his home state senator, as too dug in on her ideas.

The campaign, he said, was caught between “nostalgia,” the desire to return to what existed before President Trump; and “our big idea or no way.”

“Neither of those seizes the moment,” he said.

After registering for the ballot in New Hampshirelater Thursday, Patrick plans to head to California, a state that falls early in the primary calendar and has a wealth of delegates.

Patrick on Wednesday was working through a list of people to alert of his decision, according to those with knowledge of his plans, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the plans before they were announced.

Patrick’s decision, forwhich he started laying the groundwork Sunday, couldfurther unsettle the Democratic presidential field less than three months before the contest begins with the Iowa caucuses. He enteredthe race just days after former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg began making his own plans to join the field.

The twin decisions come amid lingering concern, particularly among more-moderate Democrats, about the leading centrist candidate, Biden, as well as the rise on the left of Warren. Bloomberg had initially decided not to run because he thought Biden would be too formidable an opponent. Patrick spent several months in 2018 considering a bid, but ultimately decided not to run, citing “the cruelty of our elections process” and its effect on his family.

Patrick has political strengths and an ability to deliver such soaring oratory that President Barack Obama was accused of taking lines from a 2006 speech of his. He became a two-term governor using an uplifting life story and an aspirational political brand, traits that his allies say could serve him well in a presidential campaign.

Patrick called Biden recently to inform him of his decision, in part because Patrick understands that his candidacy will in some ways be seen as a rejection of Biden, according to a person who spoke recently with Patrick. While Biden has often mentioned his eight-year partnership with “Barack,” Patrick also shares a long history with the former president, and their political networks have often intertwined.

On Thursday, Patrickoffered only a cursory view of his issue positions, saying on CBS that he favored a public insurance option over Medicare-for-all and indicating he wanted to “smooth” the tax system rather than invoke a wealth tax. He also noted the late timing of his effort.

“This won’t be easy and it shouldn’t be,” he saidin his video, “but I’m placing my faith in the people who feel left out and left back, who just want a fair shot at a better future not built by somebody better than you, not built for you but built with you.”

Here’s the video that Patrick released on Twitter coinciding with his announcement:

Deval Patrick is an Illinois native who received both his Bachelor of Arts and Juris Doctor degrees from Harvard University. After graduating from law school, Patrick served as a law clerk to Judge Stephen Reinhardt on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. After that, he went to work at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the legal wing of the NAACP which was first organized by future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, where he worked on death penalty defense and voting rights cases. From the LDF he moved to one of Boston’s top law firms where he stayed for several years. In 1994, President Clinton named Patrick as the Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division where he worked on a wide variety of issues ranging from affirmative action to police misconduct and related issue. After his time in the Justice Department ended in 1997, Patrick went on to serve in a wide variety of roles in corporations such as Texaco and The Coca-Cola Company.

In 2006, of course, Patrick ran for Governor of Massachusetts, where he easily won the Democratic nomination and the General Election. He ran for re-election in 2010 and was similarly, easily re-elected in a race against Republican Charlie Baker, who would somewhat ironically succeed him by winning the election in 2014. During his time in office, Patrick was closely linked to former President Obama, something that gave him some national notoriety. Patrick briefly considered running for President in 2016 before ruling it out as many prominent Democrats did once it became clear that Hillary Clinton would be reprising her 2008 campaign for the Democratic nomination. Since leaving office, Patrick has been back in the private sector and was most recently linked with Bain Capital, the consulting firm founded by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney that became a point in controversy during the 2012 Presidential campaign.

As I noted on Monday when it was first reported that Patrick was considering a late entry into the race for the Democratic nomination, candidates who enter a race like this rarely do well and generally speaking have not gone on to win their party’s nomination. We’ve already seen signs of his in the initial polling taken in the wake of last week’s announcement that former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg was exploring a late-entry into the Democratic race. The same is likely to be true of Patrick, who is an unknown phenomenon outside of Massachusetts and possibly neighboring New Hampshire. Indeed, the fact that polling has shown that Democratic voters don’t believe the current field of candidates needs to be supplemented by the entry of additional candidates suggests that Patrick isn’t any more likely to be welcomed into the race than Bloomberg has been.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. CSK says:

    If Patrick were 53 instead of 63, I’d say he was doing this to build name recognition for a future run, say in 2024 or 2028. That could still be possible, but as it is, I’m not sure what his reasoning is. It may be that Obama is really, really pushing him to run, as happened in 2017.

  2. Michael Reynolds says:

    Playing Devil’s Advocate:

    There are two lanes: the socialist lane and the capitalist lane. Or you can say ‘progressive’ and ‘moderate’ if you prefer. The socialist/progressive lane has a strong candidate in Warren and a back-up with Bernie. The capitalist/moderate lane has Biden and Buttigieg. Buttigieg is doing well, but the place to finish Biden off is not Iowa or NH, but in Nevada and above all in South Carolina where so far Biden is cockblocking everyone because of the loyalty of the African-American vote.

    Booker hasn’t broken into the AA vote I suspect because he’s a bit too peace and love, peace and love. Harris hasn’t because no one seems to know exactly WTF she believes in.

    So, if I’m Patrick I call up my old friend Barack and ask if he minds terribly much if I start poaching some of his donor network and try to gut Joe Biden. And at very least Obama does not wave me off.

    Can Patrick steal the SC black vote away from Biden? He’s got a better shot at it than Buttigieg. Especially if it begins to seem to SC voters that Patrick, not Biden, is Obama’s preferred candidate.

    Patrick over Bloomberg because in the Democratic Party a black capitalist beats a white capitalist. Patrick over the 1-3% candidates because he’s new. Patrick over Biden because he’s youngish. Patrick over Buttigieg because he’s more experienced and we’ve already popped the black president cherry while we have not yet learned whether voters are up for a gay candidate. Patrick over Warren because his plans will be real-world do-able. Patrick over Bernie because Patrick’s not your angry grandfather.

    If Biden’s knocked out Obama will come out strong for Patrick, so we will get the energized black vote we need. He won’t scare off the moderates. And because he’s a minority he won’t outrage the yutes.

    Yet to be seen: can he organize a campaign? Can he get private donors? Does he have any skeletons in his closet?

  3. Gustopher says:

    The campaign, he said, was caught between “nostalgia,” the desire to return to what existed before President Trump; and “our big idea or no way.”

    He’s not wrong.

    At least not at the top tier of the race, and to a first order approximation. Warren is a bit more pragmatic, but is running to the left.

    “Neither of those seizes the moment,” he said.

    Warren is my favorite, but I am skittish because I know I am way further to the left than most Democrats, let alone most Americans. My favorite shouldn’t be one of the top three with another running to the left of her.

    I want a candidate to run in the moderate track who doesn’t think things will go back to normal when Trump is gone, and who has that undefinable “it” quality that connects with people. And Patrick was sporting a pretty awesome Afro in his his youth.

    I don’t know that Deval Patrick is the answer anyone is looking for, but if he wants to toss his hat in the ring, sure, why not? It’s a big field, but the early primaries will trim it down.

    Entering late seems like a disadvantage, but if he can pull it off, then he’s awesome and we’re all happy Because he will likely crush Herr Pumpkinfueror. And, if he performs as I expect him to, well, that was his time he wasted.

  4. Teve says:

    My predictions are often wrong but I didn’t think bloomberg would get any traction and I’m less sure about Patrick but unless Obama comes out heavily for him I don’t think he’ll get much either.

  5. Michael Reynolds says:

    Patrick as president, Sherrod Brown as Veep? Patrick and Klobuchar? Patrick and Claire McCaskill? Those are three matchups I could see beating Trump.

  6. CSK says:

    I could be wrong, but I always had the sense that Obama wasn’t that sold on Biden, that he felt there were better v.p. candidates out there. And Biden could be an embarrassment, with all the verbal gaffes and the incessant groping/nuzzling/sniffing of strange women.

  7. Sleeping Dog says:


    … incessant groping/nuzzling/sniffing of strange women.

    Maybe Biden was a dog in a prior life?

    Seriously about Patrick, he had a path to the nomination if he joined the race a year ago and while the path in theory still exists, there are far more barriers to overcome.

  8. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog: As for Biden having been a dog in a past life…at least he didn’t shove his muzzle into someone’s crotch.

    As for Patrick, all I can think is that he has Obama’s assurance that Obama will pull out all the stops for him.

  9. Gustopher says:


    I could be wrong, but I always had the sense that Obama wasn’t that sold on Biden, that he felt there were better v.p. candidates out there.

    No one is more Vice Presidential than Joe Biden, and he should be at the top of everyone’s VP list.

    Clinton’s big mistake was not tapping Biden for VP. He could have saved on moving expenses had they won.

  10. Chip Daniels says:

    Patrick and Bloomberg appeal to the same people as Gabbard: The people who don’t like Democrats but are embarrassed to say they are Republican.

  11. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Chip Daniels:
    I am nowhere near being a Republican. I was for gay marriage before most gays. I despise guns. I am pro-choice. I’m an atheist. I voted twice to raise my own taxes. I give thousands of dollars to Democrats, including Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg and a host of candidates for lower office.

    Yet, I’m open to both Bloomberg and Patrick.

  12. Chip Daniels says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    They both seem far too complacent about the corrosive effect of our new Gilded Age and the inequality and hopelessness it has created. Their rhetoric would have been right at home in the mid 90’s DLC/ Third Way sort of environment, which itself was a watered down me-tooism of the Reaganonmics.

  13. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Chip Daniels:
    Job One: Beat the Republicans.

    Job Two: I don’t much care, because even if we somehow take the Senate – and those are some long odds – we will barely have it, and we will be nowhere near enough votes to shut down a filibuster, and that’s assuming that every Democrat senator is on-board. So, I love Warren but M4A isn’t going to happen, neither is the wealth tax – even if it could survive the Supremes and that’s doubtful.

    What a Democrat – any Democrat – can actually do is some reform around college debt, maybe some daycare subsidies, replace RBG assuming she lasts til then, stop betraying our friends, stop undercutting NATO, stop attacking gays and minorities, stop ignoring climate change and maybe make some incremental progress on guns.

    Which takes me back to Job One. Because the list of things we can actually do is going to be much closer to whatever wishlist Patrick or Bloomberg comes up with than to Warren or Bernie’s wishlist.

    As for the ‘hopelessness,’ quite frankly any American citizen who actually feels hopeless needs to take a good long look at the lives of the other 95% of people on this planet and see what hopeless actually looks like. We are not, and we are never going to be, Sweden. Thinking we’re going to emulate Sweden is like thinking Wal-Mart is going to become Tiffany’s. But if we get lucky and work real hard we may become Costco.

    I don’t give a single fck for virtue-signaling by endorsing pie-in-the-sky programs, I live in the real world and I’d like to see some progress even if it isn’t a whole lot of progress. And for that we need: Job One. So I will listen to any candidate who looks like they can take care of that.

  14. Moosebreath says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    “some reform around college debt, maybe some daycare subsidies, replace RBG assuming she lasts til then, stop betraying our friends, stop undercutting NATO, stop attacking gays and minorities, stop ignoring climate change and maybe make some incremental progress on guns.”

    I’d add a new Voting Rights Act, make the sort of cleanup changes to Obamacare which would have been made 8 years ago except Republicans were spending their whole time trying to heighten the contradictions, restore progressivity to the Tax Code, give more teeth to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, replace Breyer (who’s quietly past 80), etc.

    But generally, I agree with you. Even if the Senate is in Democratic hands, the 51st vote is going to be someone like Joe Manchin, so not much of Warren’s platform will be enacted.

  15. Jen says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    replace RBG assuming she lasts til then,

    This should be top of mind for every single person who has an issue with our current president. We are already in a precarious situation with SCOTUS, and things will get much, much worse if Trump is reelected.

  16. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    “Pro-gay marriage, atheist, pro-choice” pretty much describes a Massachusetts Republican. 😀

  17. Gustopher says:

    @CSK: No. Mitt Romney is a Masshole Republican. They will wrap themselves in a moderate trench coat to get elected, but then expose themselves when it is to their advantage.

  18. Kit says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Job One: Beat the Republicans.

    Not only do I want to win, but I want the next administration to be judged a success both in its time and after. My fear is that some milquetoast centrist Democrat will fail to carry the Senate, fail to enact any meaningful legislation, and find itself swimming against a red wave two years later. Then maybe it’s a rejuvenated Right that sweeps all before it two years after that. So basically four years of holding the line before the next lurch to the right. Today I’m hoping for more.

  19. Michael Reynolds says:


    judged a success both in its time and after.

    I agree, I’m just not sure how a newly-elected Elizabeth Warren getting precisely none of her big plans enacted is going to accomplish that. I wish I believed we were on the verge of being able to effect major change, but the math is the math. As for a subsequent lurch to the right, that’s what Trump is, and he was elected partly because the Left had leaned a bit too far forward.

    This is not a socialist country, and it won’t be in the foreseeable future. Obviously we need to do something about inequality but Warren’s core idea – a wealth tax – may be unconstitutional and even if it were not, it isn’t going to pass into law. Then what? Then what has Warren got? Nada. Four years of nada is not the way to ensure a Democratic future.

  20. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “Patrick and Claire McCaskill?”

    Claire McCaskill? The candidate for people who believe that tepid water is both too hot and too cold? Who lost her last election by running as a Democrat who would say all those things Democrats are supposed to say and then assure everyone she didn’t really believe them?

    Man, imagine every negative quality Hillary Clinton has, subtract the ambition and you’ve got McCaskill.

  21. Kit says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Four years of nada is not the way to ensure a Democratic future.

    I agree. And I’d really like a candidate to convince me that a vote for him (or her) is a vote for someone with a real plan of wielding power. Over the past 50 years, on the Democratic side, we’ve had… Clinton? Warren strikes me as a fighter, but I’ll admit to perhaps reading more into her than is justified.

  22. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I think Trump was elected more because he’s an absolute pig of a human being. Somehow–and this is one of his very few talents–he was able to persuade angry, frightened, gullible people who felt that no one, Democrat or Republican, respected them, that he and only he was on their side. And he did that by being a crude, malevolent buffoon. If he suddenly advocated socialism most of them would still be with him. They love him precisely because of his despicable traits, not because he’s conservative. He has no politics but for self-interest.

  23. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “I don’t give a single fck for virtue-signaling by endorsing pie-in-the-sky programs”

    As Obama learned (maybe) after seven years or so, you don’t win a negotiation by opening with what you’re willing to settle for. You start high so that you can gradually come down to that point, letting the other side think they’ve had a great success by giving you what you wanted all along.

  24. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “and he was elected partly because the Left had leaned a bit too far forward.”

    Or maybe he was elected partly because the Left didn’t lean far enough forward, letting the Republicans claim credibly that Dems were on the side of Wall Street instead of Main Street. Split up a couple of big banks, throw some high profile crooks in jail and use the bail-outs to help home owners instead of mortgage holders and maybe the lies Trump was selling wouldn’t have sounded so good.

  25. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: As far as Job Two goes… we need someone who knows they will have to fight for that mediocre outcome, and who will be willing to take the small victories rather than holding out for more.

    All of our candidates would be better than Trump. But I’m not sure all of our candidates can fight effectively and be pragmatic. Biden and Bernie, in particular.

    And then to sell that pragmatic set of smaller accomplishments as a first step to a larger vision for another term?

  26. Gustopher says:

    @wr: Warren’s economic populism appeals to me for that reason. I like how she talks about trade deals.

    On the campaign trail, Donald Trump talked like that. It won him a lot of votes, and then he never did anything about it. He’s weak there.

  27. Michael Reynolds says:


    Or maybe he was elected partly because the Left didn’t lean far enough forward, letting the Republicans claim credibly that Dems were on the side of Wall Street instead of Main Street.

    Not an unreasonable interpretation given that neither of us has data.

    FYI, just watched Deval Patrick on MSNBC talking to Nicole Wallace. He had a lousy answer on Bain Capital. Like puzzlingly off. But he had a good line that I’ll have to paraphrase: I love that our party is the party of the woke, I just think we should also be the party of the waking. It was a professionally-crafted line. He’s reaching out to the culturally alienated and barely bothering to prepare to address the economically alienated. Maybe he’s got some data. Or maybe he’s not as ready as he thinks he is.

  28. CSK says:

    FWIW, people up here in Mass. seem to be thinking that Obama convinced Patrick to make this move, and that Obama will be behind Patrick all the way.

  29. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Another thing we have no data on… I suspect the group of voters toxically annoyed by the over-woke — excepting those who are hardcore Fox viewers — is so tiny as to be meaningless. I know it’s required to point to some kind at Bennington who has some silly idea and ten followers on Twitter and say this is why Trump is going to win again, but honestly, most people have real concerns in their lives. I can see voters being afraid of Warren’s M4A plan, for instance, and deciding to vote against her. I can’t see someone who likes the idea going R because some college kids are annoying…

    Yes, that was a good line from Patrick… but I’d rather hear how he plans to fix our problems. This “we can all come together and work as a big family” thing we get from him and Biden is simply ludicrous to anyone who watched the Republicans during Obama’s time in office.

  30. wr says:

    @CSK: “FWIW, people up here in Mass. seem to be thinking that Obama convinced Patrick to make this move, and that Obama will be behind Patrick all the way.”

    My guess is we won’t hear a peep from Obama until there is a nominee…

  31. Jen says:

    This is not a good look.

    If accurate, I think he’s toast. Done.

  32. Michael Reynolds says:

    I agree. We cannot simultaneously say that the GOP is a white supremacist party and we’re going to all get along and work together. No, we won’t. The GOP has crossed a line, they no longer have a legitimate role in American politics and they have leaned so far forward into racism and fascism that they have no way to get the stink off them.

    It’s one of many reasons I dislike Biden. He seems to think ‘we’re going to work with Republicans’ is comforting. I don’t think many Dems want to live next door to those people let alone work with them.

    What we need is to take back the Senate, and by a sizable margin. We’ll need wins in 2022 and 2024 and that argues for less revolution and more emollient. The radical intelligentsia almost always over-estimates the ardor of the peasantry. We can kill the czar but the serfs aren’t going to take to the barricades – there’s too much on TV.

  33. Michael Reynolds says:

    Yep. If that is true the Patrick campaign is stillborn.

  34. CSK says:

    @Jen: @Michael Reynolds: Seems to be true.

  35. Kylopod says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Sherrod Brown as Veep

    Brown might have made a formidable nominee, and he could potentially make a formidable vp candidate. The problem is that if he vacates his Senate seat, the Republican governor gets to choose a replacement, and unlike Massachusetts or Vermont (Warren’s and Sanders’ states which also have Republican governors), it’s likely the seat would remain in Republican hands for the foreseeable future. This may have been why he didn’t enter the race in the first place, and I believe it will keep him from being selected as vp.

    If you want a candidate who’s held statewide office in the Midwest, I think one of the two Tammys (Tammy Baldwin of WI or Tammy Duckworth of IL) would be solid choices.

  36. Kari Q says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Patrick over Bloomberg because in the Democratic Party a black capitalist beats a white capitalist.

    Bloomberg has no chance of getting the Democratic nomination because of things like this.

    or ““If women wanted to be appreciated for their brains, they’d go to the library instead of Bloomingdale’s” which is guaranteed to appeal to this woman who spends a lot more time at the library than she has ever spent at Bloomingdales, or Macy’s.

    And there’s more. I don’t see him getting a large percentage of women’s votes and there’s no way to get the nomination without us.

  37. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: ” We’ll need wins in 2022 and 2024 and that argues for less revolution and more emollient. ”

    Differences tend to get exaggerated on forums like this. We are clearly in accord on what needs to be done and how it’s going to happen. I think we really only disagree on the political approach right now — whether it’s better to gather people around and move them all forward together or step out front and lead and assume people will follow.

    Of course, since I am a Professional Loudmouth Jerk like you, I know that I am 100% right while you are 100% wrong. But on the off chance that your team wins, I will do everything I can to make sure your candidate makes it into the White House…

  38. CSK says:

    @wr: No, I meant that Obama might have privately assured Patrick of his full support. Of course Obama won’t say anything publicly till after the primaries.

    The point may be moot, though, given the business about Patrick’s bil.

  39. Michael Reynolds says:

    Oh dude, we are about 99% aligned on the important stuff. Maybe 99.9. The pig’s gotta go.