Just 24 hours after he unexpectedly jumped into the Democratic presidential race, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has already emerged as a major factor in a crowded contest that can only be dubbed unpredictable.
Several political experts who spoke to us all warned Patrick should not be written off because of apparent obscurity and a late entry into the race.
All agreed, if the former Bay State governor could raise the necessary money and forge an organization at this relatively late date in the process, he could quickly move up among the "Big Four" of leading Democratic hopefuls: Joe Biden; Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.; Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.; and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
"He needs the money and organization to run a national campaign," said Prof. G. Terry Madonna, considered the premier pollster in Pennsylvania. "And can he pull together the progressive and center-left wings of the party? It's too early to know for sure. The four top candidates – Biden, Warren, Sanders, and Mayor Pete – currently draw 80% of the Democratic vote. But not all of that is firm. One possibility is he does attract Obama voters- that would be at Biden’s expense."
At 63, Deval has been out of politics since he left the governor's office in 2014. But he remains well-connected in national Democratic circles — in large part, through his close friendship with the 44th president and inarguably the most popular of all Democrats, Barack Obama.
Patrick also maintains a warm relationship with ex-President Bill Clinton, in whose administration he served as assistant U.S. attorney general for civil rights.
In addition, as only the second black to be nominated for president by a major party, Patrick would be in a strong position to vastly increase the turnout among black voters and other minorities as Barack Obama did in 2008 and '12.
"The good news is he's a governor and governors are more successful at presidential runs than senators," veteran Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf of New York told Newsmax. "In addition. he is from a state and have been successful where white and blue collar Catholics predominate, groups with which Democrats have not performed as well as needed."
But Sheinkopf added what he felt was the bad news about Patrick for Democrats in 2020: "Bad news: he brings no electoral vote advantage. He is from a dark blue state."
Sheinkopf's view of Patrick and his political potential was seconded by historian David Pietruscza, author of five much-praised books on presidential election years and a recent, prize-winning "TR's Last War: Theodore Roosevelt, the Great War, and a Journey of Triumph and Tragedy."
"Patrick is hardly a household word, nor ranked among the most dynamic of personalities," he told us. "But, on paper, at least, he enjoys a cartload of advantages – potential Obama support, geographic proximity to New Hampshire, and potential strong support among black voters on Super Tuesday and November 2020."
Pietrusza also pointed out Patrick "also enjoys the powerful advantage of being neither Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, nor Bernie Sanders – neither too old nor too socialist. Very rarely does a candidate step in so late to the game to capture the prize, but it can be done, as was the case with Wendell Willkie in 1940 or Adlai Stevenson in 1952. To summon up another historical analogy, he may be 2020's version of 1920's Warren Harding and James M. Cox—in other words, an 'available man.'"
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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