Massachusetts ex-Governor Patrick enters crowded Democratic presidential race


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick will seek the Democratic nomination for president, entering a crowded field of candidates vying to run against Republican Donald Trump in 2020, he said in a video released on Thursday.

A close ally of former Democratic President Barack Obama, Patrick, a 63-year-old African-American, joins nearly 20 other candidates seeking the nomination ahead of next year’s election.

In a campaign video released online, Patrick pointed to anxiety and anger among Americans who feel their government and the economy has let them down. He said he respected the current field of Democrats, but “this time is about the character of the country.”

“This time is more than removing an unpopular and divisive leader, as important as that is, but about delivering instead for you,” Patrick said, citing a “determination to build a better, more sustainable, more inclusive American dream for the next generation.”

The Harvard-trained lawyer and two-term former governor is a managing director of the Boston investment firm Bain Capital. The firm could not immediately be reached for comment.

He joins a field dominated by former Vice President Joe Biden, a moderate, and two liberals: U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made preparations over the past week to get on the ballot in two states as he weighs a presidential bid.

These late entries highlight the volatility of the race and Democrats’ worries that the candidacy of front-runner Joe Biden, who was vice president under Obama, may be weakening.

The apparent ascendance of Warren worries many Democrats, who fear the liberal firebrand may not draw enough enthusiasm among moderate voters and Republicans who dislike Trump to propel a winning campaign against him.

Still, Patrick’s candidacy will face a steep uphill climb. So far, all but the top five candidates have failed to garner more than a few percentage points of support in state and national polls.

Patrick is entering the race too late to be included in Democrats’ upcoming debate in Atlanta. He would have to win 4% or more in at least four polls approved by the party as well as donations from 200,000 unique donors by Dec. 12 to be included in the party’s debate that month in Los Angeles.

As governor, Patrick was credited with implementing the state’s healthcare reform plan, passed under his predecessor, Republican Mitt Romney, and reforming its pension system.

The state’s first African-American chief executive, Patrick also reworked Massachusetts’ transportation department and raised the minimum wage.

He worked with Obama to raise funds and support Democrats in other states in their campaigns, and in 2014, Obama told a Boston television station that Patrick would make “a great president or vice president.”

Patrick was assistant attorney general for civil rights under Democratic President Bill Clinton, and was governor of Massachusetts from 2007 to 2015.

Reporting by Sharon Bernstein and Susan Heavey; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Bernadette Baum