On Thursday, former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick announced his late bid in the 2020 presidential campaign, coming only three months before the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary. And while Patrick does have some political characteristics that could make his campaign successful, his entry to this race is too late and too disorganized.
In his announcement video, Patrick noted that his campaign would focus on delivering on his promises, rather than just defeating the incumbent, in addition to rebuilding the same “American dream” that he was able to experience throughout his life.
It makes sense that Patrick would campaign on these ideas. Growing up poor on the South Side of Chicago, he was able to defy the odds, eventually making his way to Harvard and Harvard Law School, ultimately graduating cum laude from both. This very same inspirational story, paired with a strong campaign plan, is what helped him win the gubernatorial election in 2007.
Also, seeing as there is no Democratic candidate so far that has reached a solid majority of public interest, there is some opportunity for Patrick to make an impact, even with his short time. He even stated to the Boston Globe on Nov. 14that, “if [he] felt like voters had made up their minds … [he] wouldn’t do it.”
So, on the one hand, it’s easy to see how Patrick would have good reason to jump into the race. After all, the 2016 election seems to have widened the realm of possibility in these presidential campaigns and modern politics as a whole. If a candidate like President Trump can win the presidency who’s to say that Patrick can’t?
Also, the fact that he finished his term in 2014 with an overall positive approval rating demonstrates that he does still have some public backing.
Despite being well-known in the Massachusetts area, Patrick is practically a nobody to the rest of the country. Without much familiarity it will be a challenge for him and his campaign team to make a name for himself in the three months that he left.
And his campaign team is a problem in itself.
By the time Patrick announced his bid, he still had practically no campaign staff or ground operation. He’s also still so unfamiliar with his campaign manager, Abe Rakov, that in phone calls with donors he mistakenly referred to him as “Gabe,” according to The New York Times.
Patrick still seems optimistic about his developing campaign and budding support, which either suggests that he is confident in his abilities as a politician or that he has no idea how far behind he truly is.
Another obstacle in Patrick’s way is his involvement in big companies like Coca-Cola and Texaco that the progressive Democratic candidates like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have been criticizing.
As climate change and environmental justice have become hot political topics in the past year, his experience as an ex-oil executive will mostly likely hurt his chances as well.
Patrick isn’t the only late newcomer to the election, though.
This past week, former Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg also announced that he is considering running for president in 2020, with an advisor stating that he is afraid that no Democratic nominee right now has the potential to beat Trump.
If he chooses to run, Bloomberg will have some of the same problems as Patrick, being seen as capitalist figurehead and having so little time to campaign—not to mention his history of sexist comments toward women.
Bloomberg does have an advantage in having more name recognition across the country than Patrick and his personal wealth ensures that he can get his name out with ease. In fact, he is already planning to spend $100 million on anti-Trump ads in the key swing states.
If Bloomberg’s main goal is to guarantee that Trump doesn’t win the election for a second time, they are going about it the wrong way. Launching a campaign inspired by fear of Trump’s reelection doesn’t bode well and just works against the candidates who are attempting to gain steady public support.
With both Bloomberg and Patrick vying as moderate alternatives in the Democratic Party, they will most likely only take away support from the leading moderate Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, rather than gain the lead themselves.
Even if Patrick hasn’t said that he is running solely to beat Trump, his goals appear clouded. If Patrick really wanted to become president for the sake of bettering America, he would have ran from the start.
Featured Graphic by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor