WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick is making a late entry into the Democratic presidential race.
Patrick announced his bid Thursday in an online video, saying, “I am today announcing my candidacy for president of the United States.”
Patrick made history as the first black governor of Massachusetts and has close ties to former US president Barack Obama and his network of political advisers. But he faces significant fundraising and organizational hurdles less than three months before voting begins.
Patrick’s announcement comes as some Democrats worry about the strength of the party’s current field of contenders. Another Democrat — former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg — is also weighing a last-minute bid for the party’s nomination.
In a spirit of profound gratitude for all the country has given to me, with a determination to build a better, more sustainable, more inclusive American Dream for everyone:
— Deval Patrick (@DevalPatrick) November 14, 2019
Bloomberg has taken steps toward launching a presidential campaign, filing candidate papers in Alabama and Arkansas. Even 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton this week said in a BBC interview that she is “under enormous pressure from many, many, many people to think about it,” adding that she has no such plans but still would “never, never, never say never.”
The moves reflect uncertainty about the direction of the Democratic contest with no commanding front-runner. Joe Biden entered the race as the presumptive favorite and maintains significant support from white moderates and black voters, whose backing is critical in a Democratic primary. But he’s facing spirited challenges from Patrick’s home-state senator, Elizabeth Warren, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, progressives whose calls for fundamental economic change have alarmed moderates and wealthy donors.
Patrick could present himself as a potential bridge across the moderate, liberal and progressive factions — as candidates like Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Kamala Harris and Sen. Cory Booker are trying to do.
But the former governor faces significant hurdles to raise enormous amounts of money quickly and to build an organization in the traditional early voting states that most of his rivals have focused on for the past year. And he’ll have to pivot to the expensive and logistically daunting Super Tuesday contests, when voters in more than a dozen states and territories head to the polls. Bloomberg’s team has said they will skip the early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina to focus on the Super Tuesday roster.
It’s also a near certainty that Patrick — and possibly Bloomberg — wouldn’t make a Democratic debate stage until January, if at all, because of debate rules set by the party.
Those dynamics left some prominent Democrats questioning Patrick’s viability, while some existing campaigns privately offered outright mockery and derision.
“Stop. We have enough candidates,” said Kathy Sullivan, a Democratic National Committee member from New Hampshire, which hosts the party’s first presidential primary following the Iowa caucuses.
Texas Democratic chairman Gilberto Hinojosa, whose state boasts the second-largest number of Super Tuesday delegates behind California, said he hadn’t heard from Patrick or his representatives. “People are fine with the field,” Hinojosa said, arguing that donors and media are mistaken to think that rank-and-file Democrats see Biden, Warren and others as unable to take down President Donald Trump.
Besides, Hinojosa said, “most of the people you need to build out a campaign have already chosen sides.”
A former managing director for Bain Capital, Patrick has close ties to Wall Street donors. As the first black governor of Massachusetts and only the nation’s second elected black governor since Reconstruction, Patrick also could run as a historic boundary breaker trying to dent Biden’s support among African Americans — though Harris and Booker, the only two black Democrats in the Senate, have been unable to do that thus far.