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Deval Patrick Is Telling Top Democrats He Will Run For President

The former governor said last year he wouldn't run. He's now saying he has changed his mind.

Last updated on November 13, 2019, at 4:33 p.m. ET

Posted on November 13, 2019, at 3:30 p.m. ET

Larry French

Deval Patrick speaks at the Jefferson Awards Foundation's National Ceremony at the Capital Hilton on June 22, 2017, in Washington, DC.

Former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick is telling top Democrats that he plans to make a last-minute entrance into the presidential race, two sources told BuzzFeed News.

In conversations, Patrick has suggested part of the reason he is deciding to jump in now is that he is concerned about the trajectory of former vice president Joe Biden's campaign, sources said.

Patrick, a close ally of former President Barack Obama and his advisers, spent much of the summer and fall of 2018 preparing a presidential campaign before deciding that he would not actually run. At the time he told BuzzFeed News he would work to help candidates looking to defeat President Donald Trump.

"The candidate we want to emerge, that we hope and pray to emerge, is somebody who knows him or herself pretty well and is going to stay grounded and open and listening to everybody with an open heart," he said last December.

Patrick has been surveying the primary intently since then. In the nearly year since, he has come to a different conclusion about what he should do, not because he feels the field lacks talent, but instead because of a sense that the Democrats in the race have so far failed to present a clear case for optimism. Without that in place, a former Patrick adviser said, Patrick must see a path that emphasizes a vision of American governance that would heal the country after Trump, not further divide it.

A top Democrat who spoke with Patrick in recent weeks told BuzzFeed News that Patrick now regrets not jumping into the race when he had a clear opportunity. In a race where even the most optimistic of candidates have struggled to gain traction, Patrick’s advisers have faith in his ability to hit the ground running speaking from the heart.

Last fall, several former senior Obama administration and campaign officials told BuzzFeed News they would be ready to support Patrick should he run. Patrick, who ended his time as governor in 2015, had also considered running for president in 2016. Patrick has in recent years been working for Bain Capital, the firm that Mitt Romney was attacked for being connected to during his presidential run in 2012.

It could be tough for Patrick to gain traction joining the race this late. Democrats broadly like the candidate field as is, with about two-thirds of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters telling Pew over the summer that they had an "excellent" or "good" impression of the Democratic candidates as a group. Patrick has also already missed deadlines to get onto primary ballots in Alabama and Arkansas.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.