Deval Patrick: a short runway, but potential to get airborne

Deval Patrick: a short runway, but potential to get airborne
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In a mild voice, former governor of Massachusetts and son of Chicago, Deval PatrickDeval PatrickAndrew Yang endorses Biden in 2020 race Deval Patrick backs Biden Nevada caucuses open with a few hiccups MORE entered the race for president of the United States of America. Gov. Patrick’s announcement, which had been hinted at earlier this week, came in the form of a video released to his social media followers early Thursday morning. Though Patrick is no stranger to the Democratic Party, his last-minute entry has caused many to ask this fundamental question: Is there room for one more?

As it currently stands, there are 18 candidates running in the crowded Democratic presidential field. While some — like Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi Gabbard20 House Dems call on Trump to issue two-week, nationwide shelter-in-place order The Hill's Morning Report — ,000,000,000,000: GOP unveils historic US rescue effort Gillibrand endorses Biden for president MORE of Hawaii, Gov. Steve BullockSteve BullockPolitics and the pandemic — Republicans are rightly worried The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden moves to unify party before general election Poll shows Daines, Bullock neck and neck in Montana Senate race MORE of Montana, Billionaire Tom SteyerTom SteyerProgressive advocates propose T 'green stimulus' plan Candidates want data privacy rules, except for their own campaigns Budowsky: Biden should pull together a 'dream team of rivals' MORE, Rep. John DelaneyJohn DelaneyJohn Delaney endorses Biden Nevada caucuses open with a few hiccups Lobbying world MORE of Maryland, to name a few — are most definitely long shots for the nomination, there seems to be a clear set of front runners galvanizing the party’s faithful. These front runners have crisscrossed the country, opened dozens of campaign offices, participated in numerous town-halls, hosted hundreds of fundraisers, and taken thousands of selfies with supporters over the last 12 months. Also, nearly all of the 18 remaining candidates have participated in at least one televised debate. Given all of that, this field still seems to have a crack or two.

Several nights ago, I sat down for dinner with a group of young African-American progressive voters. When asked about the 2020 field of Democratic candidates and who they liked, they all responded with the same sigh. Most had it down two or three candidates, but all were undecided just two months away from the first contest. One diner expressed a great deal of interest in the idea of a Patrick campaign.

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Here is the truth: While short, there’s a little bit of runway for Patrick. Given that he’s a former governor of Massachusetts and Boston shares media markets with the state of New Hampshire, he has some name recognition in the first primary state. With that said, Patrick will have a problem contending with current frontrunners, like Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenCoronavirus makes the campaign season treacherous for Joe Biden Biden tops Trump by 9 points in Fox News poll Unions urge Chamber of Commerce to stop lobbying against Defense Production Act MORE and Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegReuters poll finds Sanders cutting Biden national lead to single digits Biden says he'll adopt plans from Sanders, Warren Buttigieg guest-hosts for Jimmy Kimmel: 'I've got nothing else going on' MORE, who have occupied the hearts and minds of those wishing to return sanity, reasonability and practicality to our nation’s political discourse.

Similar to Biden, Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerDemocrats eye additional relief checks for coronavirus Lawmakers, labor leaders ramp up calls to use Defense Production Act Democratic senators call on FDA to drop restrictions on blood donations from men who have sex with men MORE of New Jersey and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBiden tops Trump by 9 points in Fox News poll Hillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike Democratic Senators urge FTC to prevent coronavirus price gouging MORE of Massachusetts, Patrick’s humble beginnings and meteoric rise are what make America so great. Growing up on Chicago’s poverty-stricken Southside in a two-room tenement with his father and grandmother, Patrick worked his way to Harvard University for his undergraduate studies and law school. Instead of taking the big entry-level law firm job, as most law grads do, the former justice department official decided to become a civil rights attorney at the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund.

There are some who will attack Patrick for later becoming a corporate lawyer and for taking a job at Bain Capital — a firm founded by Utah Senator and former Republican presidential candidate Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt Romney7 things to know about the coronavirus stimulus package Scarborough rips Trump for mocking Romney's negative coronavirus test: 'Could have been a death sentence' Trump on Romney's negative coronavirus test: 'I am so happy I can barely speak' MORE. Those attacks are warranted, and Patrick’s campaign should be prepared to respond.

Beyond his story, Patrick has a pretty decent record on issues that matter for progressive voters. While he was governor, Massachusetts led the nation in reducing carbon emissions. In 2008, Patrick signed a bill into law that made the Bay State a leader in the production and use of biofuels. Beyond that, he was one of the first governors in the country to take real steps to curb gun violence by closing the gun show loophole and placing more stringent requirements for gun sales. Before leaving office, Patrick pushed forward a sweeping $13-billon infrastructure package that put a lot of folks back to work, rebuilding the Old Colony State and improving worn-out bridges, roads, and critical commuter rail lines.

In 2014, Patrick championed legislation that required health insurers to extend coverage to people struggling with drug addiction, codifying it as a mental health problem, not a criminal justice one. As state after state restricted women’s access to care, Patrick signed a bill into law allowing law enforcement to remove anti-choice protesters away from women’s healthcare center entrances.

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On the heels of an 11-day teachers’ strike in Chicago and a nationwide #RedForED pro-public education movement, Patrick will most definitely have to clean up or at least explain his record on public education. While his commitment to closing the achievement gap at the K-12 and secondary education levels seems very clear, his methodology will produce some ire from Democratic base voters. As a one-time proponent for privatization schemes, like charter schools and vouchers, the former general counsel for Coca-Cola faces an uphill battle in explaining his record to educators, parents, and community members committed to ensuring high-quality neighborhood public schools.

Whether or not Patrick can launch himself into the Democratic top tier remains to be seen. Here’s what is known: He hasn’t met the qualifications for next week’s Democratic debate, and he likely won’t meet the requirements for the December debate. However, he has more than just ideas. He has experience — specifically executive experience — and that matters in an era of bad governance. Patrick’s hope lies in his campaign’s ability to speak to practical progressives fed up with candidates too far to the left and over those fighting for a space in the moderate middle.

Richard A. Fowler is a Fox News Contributor and host of radio’s Fowler Show. On Fox, Fowler brings a progressive voice to conservative broadcast on America’s most-watched cable television network. He is also a Senior Fellow at the New Leaders Council. Follow him on Twitter @RichardAFowler.