Opinion by: Krystal Ball
We’ve got some breaking news this morning, Deval Patrick has in fact officially joined the large presidential field.
Here is what you need to know. Patrick served as Massachusetts Governor from 2006 to 2012 and according to Politico a who’s who of Obama insiders had previously encouraged Patrick to jump into the race to include David Axelrod, Valerie Jarret, and Mr. Obama himself. In addition to his political work, Deval Patrick has taken full advantage of the opportunities to cash in that are made available to prominent government officials. He was particularly well positioned given his own trailblazing status and background as a civil rights attorney.
For example, shortly after Patrick settled a massive racial discrimination lawsuit with Texaco in his capacity at the DOJ, he walked right on through that revolving door over to work for Texaco as their VP and General Counsel. Then, he took a job as Coca-Cola’s top in-house counsel shortly after they too settled a massive racial discrimination lawsuit. But perhaps most egregious was his time at subprime mortgage giant Ameriquest, a company famous for pressuring working class families into taking on mortgages they couldn’t possibly hope to pay and then brutally foreclosing on them and seizing their homes. And today, he’s managing director at that singularly beloved American institution, Bain Capital.
As Zach Carter at the Huffington Post put it: “In corporate America, Patrick was not so much a reformer as he was a public relations figure. He gave corporations a story to tell about the good things they were supposedly doing ― even when they were simultaneously busying themselves with very bad things.”
Rapacious, predatory, corporatist with close ties to both Clinton and Obama world. Meet your 2020 dream candidate ladies and gentlemen!
I don’t doubt that Patrick will be able to raise some money given his political and business ties and the incredible angst apparently gripping the Democratic donor community but unless something truly wild were to happen like Obama deciding to actually endorse him, I got a hard time imagining Patrick gaining much ground. First of all, primary voters are actually quite satisfied with their choices. Those looking for a safe Obama throwback are good with Biden, those looking for a more progressive traditional politician like Warren, and those who are in search of a more radical change are in for Bernie. What’s more, Patrick is going to have a tough time making it into the debates that are left given the difficult donor and polling thresholds. Is a grassroots movement going to spontaneously spring up to give a managing director of Bain Capital the 200,000 donations he would need? Not seeing that one.
But, that doesn’t mean that Patrick’s run won’t impact the race. And there’s one candidate who he could be particularly troublesome for. It’s Elizabeth Warren. One of the strengths Warren has is her status as neighbor to the first in the nation primary state of New Hampshire. Her familiarity to New Hampshire voters and strength with affluent white liberals in-particular is a big plus for her there and is part of why she’s invested so heavily in the granite state.
But Deval Patrick hails from the same state as Warren so he is also well known to New Hampshire voters and he also could hold appeal for a certain affluent white demographic. He’s a wine track candidate and she’s a wine track candidate. And in New Hampshire right now every tiny movement counts.
Take a look at this. This is the current RCP average of polls in New Hampshire and it shows a three-way tie race between Biden, Warren, and Bernie.
Moreover, this is a state that has at times seen Biden lead, at times, has seen Warren lead and at times has seen Bernie lead. It really is anyone’s game. So even if Patrick steals a point or two from Warren, it could make all the difference.
There’s another element to this as well though. Warren may have created a bit of a mess for herself on this Deval Patrick situation. When she was recently asked by Angela Rye what 3 African Americans she must have in her cabinet, guess who topped the list? Bain Capital’s own Deval Patrick.
Here in part is Warren’s response to Angela’s question about African Americans in her cabinet:
Pretty terrific guy. Hmmmmm. This response caught my eye at the time because any administration stocked with Texaco, Ameriquest, Bain Capital types is an administration that will do nothing but continue the current destruction of the working class. But given Deval’s entrance into the race, it’s really aged poorly and very quickly.
As Ryan Grim pointed out, Warren’s name-checking of Patrick as somebody she’d welcome in her administration was quite an own-goal, makes it awfully hard to point out that he’s a predatory capitalist by profession.
Indeed. Kind of hard to be a predatory capitalist and a pretty terrific guy who you must have in a Warren cabinet.
Now I know a lot of the punditocracy is thinking Patrick could have his biggest early state impact in South Carolina where it is simplistically believed that because he is black, black voters will move from the underwhelming Biden to back him. You can ask Cory Booker and Kamala Harris how that strategy is working out for them. Look anything’s possible but it seems unlikely to me that Biden backers are looking to trade-in Barack Obama’s loyal 2 term Vice President for a guy they don’t really know, friend of Obama though he may be. After all, working class African Americans didn’t ask Deval Patrick to get into the race, wealthy elites did. And as we always say on this show, looking at who supports a candidate is way more important than who they claim to represent. So don’t look at South Carolina, keep your eye instead on New Hampshire. If Deval Patrick is going to make any kind of splash in the race it will likely be there and it will likely be to the detriment of Elizabeth Warren. Also, Senator Warren, with respect, please get some better answers on who you want in your cabinet because this ain’t it.
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