Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick announced Thursday he is running for president, making a late entry into the Democratic race less than three months before primary voting begins.
In an announcement video, Patrick highlighted his poverty-stricken childhood on Chicago’s South Side, saying he’s running for the “people who feel left out and left back.”
As the first in his family to go to college and law school, Patrick said, “I’ve had a chance to live my American Dream.” But over the years, the “path to that dream” has closed off for others, he said, as government and economy have been “letting us down.”
Patrick made history as the first black governor of Massachusetts and has close ties to former President Barack Obama and his network of political advisers. But he faces significant fundraising and organizational hurdles this late in the race.
His 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.
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.