Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, rumored since last year to be contemplating a run for the White House, officially joined the 2020 Democratic presidential race today, prompting untold scores of people to ask: “Sir, are you serious??”
In an announcement video published online Thursday morning, Patrick stressed the need for unity and building a “more inclusive American dream for the next generation.” As NPR notes, there’s nothing novel about this message for 2020 (or in previous election cycles): “It sounds remarkably akin to themes New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg have highlighted throughout their campaigns.”
Patrick, much like former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s old rich ass, appears to see an opening for a centrist candidate: someone who doesn’t scare off the wealthy, or the politically moderate white folks who, somehow, are undecided despite currently having a documented racist for president. Seems like a sensible group of people to appeal to!
As a recent managing director at Bain Capital, an investment firm founded by Mitt Romney, Patrick will certainly have friends on Wall Street—unlike Democrat frontrunners Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Like former Vice President Joe Biden, Patrick also has a longtime friendship with Barack Obama that could be useful to him on the campaign trail. As the HuffPost writes, Patrick also said he’s in favor of increasing taxes on “the most prosperous and most fortunate,” and supports a public healthcare option, though he doesn’t support “Medicare for All.”
But in an election cycle where populist messaging—specifically around income inequality—has gained traction among potential voters, Patrick has considerable liabilities.
As a 2018 HuffPost article documents, Patrick—Massachusetts’ first black governor—has a long and substantial relationship with Republican Party “megadonor” Roland Arnall, who helmed the mortgage company Ameriquest. Arnall’s operation would become “the world’s largest subprime lender during the housing bubble,” writes the HuffPost, explicitly targeting black and brown families and causing thousands of homeowners to default on their mortgages.
Patrick advocated for Ameriquest in the 1990s, referring to it as a “good company”—and Arnall as a “good man”—in a letter recommending Arnall for an ambassadorship.
But that wasn’t all. From the HuffPost:
Patrick was making $360,000 a year working for Ameriquest. He joined the company’s board in 2004, lending his credibility as a former civil rights attorney to both the company’s operations and the public image of its founder. Two months after Patrick vouched for Arnall to the Senate, Ameriquest agreed to pay $325 million to settle predatory lending allegations in 49 states and the District of Columbia.
When the mortgage business began to implode, Patrick left Ameriquest to run for governor of Massachusetts. Though his corporate background generated plenty of controversy in the primary ― he pointedly refused to release his tax returns during the campaign ― he entered office in 2007 as Ameriquest was collapsing. Patrick called Citigroup executive Robert Rubin to plead for funding to rescue the dying firm, using the weight of the governorship to quite literally call in a favor for a Republican billionaire.
Good luck to this man.