Deval Patrick's 2020 entry raises stakes in New Hampshire

Deval Patrick's 2020 entry raises stakes in New Hampshire

Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval PatrickDeval PatrickSanders urges impeachment trial 'quickly' in the Senate Booker campaign rakes in million after Harris exits 2020 race Krystal Ball: New Biden ad is everything that's wrong with Democrats MORE's (D) entrance into the presidential primary race threatens to peel off voter support from Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenTrump trade deal likely to sow division in Democratic presidential field Buttigieg says he doubts consulting work for insurer led to layoffs Trump supporters at Pa. rally 'upset' after Democrats introduce impeachment articles MORE (D-Mass.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersTrump trade deal likely to sow division in Democratic presidential field Buttigieg says he doubts consulting work for insurer led to layoffs Trump supporters at Pa. rally 'upset' after Democrats introduce impeachment articles MORE (I-Vt.) in New Hampshire, pitting three New England candidates against each other in the battle for the Granite State.

New Hampshire's primary on Feb. 11 had already loomed as critical state for Warren and Sanders, who won it in 2016.

But the addition of the moderate two-term Massachusetts governor injects additional uncertainty, leading to the prospect of a heated contest that could end up benefitting former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenRepublicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial Trump trade deal likely to sow division in Democratic presidential field Trump supporters at Pa. rally 'upset' after Democrats introduce impeachment articles MORE.

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“He is a known quantity,” Deb Kozikowski, vice-chairwoman of the Massachusetts Democratic State Committee, said regarding Patrick. 

Kozikowski added that Patrick’s time as governor from 2007 to 2015, as well as his relationships with state parties, including in New Hampshire, will be an asset to him in the primary. 

The Boston media market’s reach into a broad swath of New Hampshire is also likely to help. 

“Is he a top-tier competitor in New Hampshire instantly? Absolutely,” longtime Massachusetts political operative Scott Ferson said. 

“If there’s somebody from Massachusetts, going back to Paul Tsongas and Mike Dukakis, they usually win the New Hampshire primary,” he continued. 

The late Sen. Paul Tsongas and former Gov. Michael Dukakis won the New Hampshire primary, as did then-Sen. John KerryJohn Forbes KerryMellman: Looking to Iowa The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - A crucial week on impeachment Biden rallies with John Kerry in early primary states MORE (D-Mass.) in 2004. 

Patrick enters the race as polls have shown a tight contest in the famously independent state. His entry came a day before the deadline to register to run in New Hampshire on Friday, in an indication he was seeking to contest the state.

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Biden and Warren are tied for the lead in the Granite State at 19.7 percent each, according to the latest Real Clear Politics polling average, with Sanders close behind at 19 percent.  

However, other strategists say Patrick’s name recognition is not as strong in New England as it used to be, given that it’s been nearly five years since he served as Massachusetts governor. 

“He hasn’t kept a big footprint in Massachusetts,” Michael Goldman, a veteran Massachusetts political strategist told The Hill. “He works for Bain [Capital], but it’s not like he has chosen an issue, for example, to try to drive as a former governor.” 

Patrick would also need to quickly amass support and resources in a state in which most leading 2020 contenders have already spent months of campaigning.

Patrick is also likely to come under attack from progressives and from others who will question his decision to enter so late in the race.

Patrick joined private equity firm Bain Capital after his terms as governor, in what is expected to become a point of contention among the ascendant progressive wing of the Democratic Party.

Warren took aim at the private equity industry last July and proposed a number of regulations with the intent of reining firms in. 

Patrick's candidacy comes as former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael Rubens BloombergBloomberg to appear alongside ex-Gov. Jerry Brown for first California campaign visit: report Bloomberg not sure Trump is a billionaire: 'Never seen' his tax returns Poll: Buttigieg slips into fourth place as Biden widens lead MORE, one of the wealthiest people in the country, is also considering a late entry, making it likely that the two will be painted as rich interlopers seeking to crash the nomination.

Sanders’s senior adviser and speechwriter, David Sirota, jabbed at both Patrick and Bloomberg in his “Bern Notice” newsletter this week, writing, “The potential last-minute candidacies of corporate titans are a direct response to the Bernie Surge.”

But Patrick also brings strengths after accumulating a moderate record during his time at the helm of Massachusetts, and he appears to see an opening in the fluid Democratic field, with a number of polls showing no clear front-runner has emerged.

He has indicated he will paint himself as a unifying figure, hoping to bring the centrist and progressive wings of the party together.

The former Massachusetts governor also believes Biden is vulnerable, saying on Thursday that Biden’s campaign was “missing the moment” amid growing doubts among party activists about the once presumed front-runner in the Democratic race.

Biden has struggled to beat back a strong challenge from Warren and Sanders and has lagged in fundraising against his chief rivals.

But strategists nonetheless call Patrick's entry a big gamble, both in New Hampshire and in his 2020 aspirations. 

"Folks are jumping into this race thinking there’s no front-runner and thinking that the field is weak,” Patrick Murray, the director of polling at Monmouth University said. "There hasn’t been a single candidate that has been able to coalesce more than a couple factions.”

“If running for president is a Hail Mary under any circumstances, this is like a Hail Mary from two stadiums over,” Patrick said. 

-- Max Greenwood contributed to this report