(WASHINGTON) — Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, the last remaining African American candidate in a Democratic presidential field once defined by its diversity, ended his 2020 campaign Wednesday after his late bid failed to catch fire or resonate with voters.
The departure of the former Massachusetts governor from the race comes a day after he lagged near the bottom of the Democratic field in the New Hampshire primary. His decision leaves just one other candidate of color, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a Samoan American, in the Democratic contest. It brings the number of Democrats in the presidential primary race to eight.
Patrick launched his bid for president in mid-November but failed to register in polling and fundraising and never made it onto a presidential debate stage. Patrick raised just $2.2 million in the final six weeks of last year, and while a super PAC created to support his bid committed nearly that much to advertising in the early primary states last month, Patrick still barely registered in New Hampshire.
It’s a disappointing finish for someone who, in part because of his rhetorical skills, has long drawn comparisons to former President Barack Obama. The two men are personally close and Patrick counts some of Obama’s aides and donors as part of his own inner circle. Valerie Jarrett, one of Obama’s closest advisers, was one of Patrick’s most prominent supporters.
But Obama has largely avoided wading into the race, and Patrick said throughout the primary that he didn’t expect the former president to provide a boost to his bid.
Patrick focused his campaign entirely on New Hampshire, hoping the familiarity of a neighboring state would help boost his chances in the race. He offered what aides felt was a unique message in a field that ultimately boiled down largely to career politicians with little executive or private sector experience: that he had the track record as governor and through years of business experience to deliver on Democratic priorities like fighting climate change and reforming health care.
But another New England Democrat, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, won the state. Also, Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, emerged as the leading moderate, winning many of the same centrist voters Patrick had sought.
On the campaign trail, Patrick made a case for compassionate capitalism, the idea that businesses and government can work together in service of public good, and he drew on his time working for Bain Capital developing businesses that promote positive social change as evidence. While some donors and moderate Democrats said both his message and the messenger were sorely needed, in a primary season dominated by progressives’ calls to break up big corporations and expand government aid programs, Patrick’s arguments seemed to fall flat with some voters.