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March 27, 2005

Impressions of Deval Patrick from Cambridge, 3/26

[UPDATE: Impression #2 is now up. Click the "Continue Reading..." link below for that.]
[ANOTHER UPDATE: Read .08's thoughts on Patrick.]

As promised, I'll be posting the thoughts of some folks who were at the Ward 9 (Cambridge) Democratic committee breakfast meeting with Deval Patrick. This meeting was open to members of other ward committees in Cambridge.

I'll post them anonymously, unless someone wants me to identify them. (You'll just have to trust that I'm not making them up.) The folks writing in are not journalists, so their reports will be highly subjective! At this point in the race, I think that's even more valuable.

I'll update this post as I receive them. So here they are:

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Here's #1:

"A Renaissance Man for the Commonwealth"
Linda Sophia Pinti, Secretary, Cambridge Ward 6 Democratic Committee
(At her request, I attributed Ms. Pinti's thoughts.)

We've heard Deval Patrick speak twice now, first in a large university setting and this morning at a more intimate Ward 9 breakfast gathering at a home on Brattle Street. For those of us who came hungry not just for breakfast, but to reclaim the corner office for the people, Deval's presence offered us filling nourishment.

He has style and substance, charisma and gravitas. He comes across as bright, charming, warm, humorous, energetic, imaginative and yes -- he has a progressive vision for the state. I also sense him to have a political toughness and resiliency, not always present in the visionary. Can you tell I'm enthused?

He is certainly the most exciting gubernatorial candidate I've seen since moving here in '87 and I feel in my bones that he can not just beat Romney, but win the hearts and minds of Democrats, Independents and even some Republicans.

He grew up in poverty, but earned his way to Harvard. His resume is broad, including working for the NAACP and serving the Clinton administration as head of the civil rights division, but he also knows his way around the corporate world serving as legal counsel for several multinationals. When asked to comment on the latter, he said "I've never taken a job and parked my conscience at the door."

Deval talked about wanting to get beyond politics as bloodsport and how we need to talk to and care about one another and really make the Commonwealth all that it can be. It's become almost a cliche, but this is a guy who seems to think out of the box and who will take risks to help our state achieve greatness in the way its government serves and inspires its citizens. You can tell he hasn't forgotten where he came from and like Clinton, you sense he really cares about people.

And of course for me, though perhaps it should be irrelevant, I confess the fact that he is African American is a plus, and his opposition to the death penalty and support for the SJC's decision on gay marriage are a balm to my liberal soul.

In short, I hope we do the smart thing this time around, get our act together as Democrats and nominate a candidate who can unite us and win. I believe that candidate is Deval Patrick.

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Here's #2:

Deval Patrick came and spoke at a ward meeting in Cambridge on March 26, 2005, and he was clearly out there working his early days as a candidate. He announced that he wasn’t ready to announce yet, but that he felt he was 88 percent there. He just needed a campaign manager.

He did some things well. Some things less well. He claimed that the fundamental question facing us today is the question of “hope v. cynicism” in our politics. He’s well-spoken, articulate. He’s got an impressive resume. And in some ways, though he denies it, I worry that his overall theme is that he’s not Tom Reilly. 

However, it doesn’t seem possible to me that he’ll be able to dodge this key question for too long: If Tom Reilly is the type of Democrat that we should not be electing, then what is it about him that makes him the type of Democrat that we should be electing? He hasn’t sorted that out yet, but – to be fair – he’s working on it.

The opening question from the audience brought some of his own liabilities to the fore. The questioner started with the words “I hate the first three institutions you mentioned when talking about your work…” including the two law firms where Patrick worked (Hill & Barlow, and Day, Berry & Harlow) and the oil giant Texaco. According to this participant, these institutions have done a lot of bad things in Massachusetts, and they aren’t places to be proud of. Patrick pointed to his pro bono work, which he claimed took up about 30 percent of his time at one of the firms. He also cited an internal dispute he had when he was counsel at Coca-Cola where he argued for greater openness in the company, and left as a result of that disagreement.

It seems to me that Mr. Patrick is actually going to have to push himself to figure out just how much he wants to claim to be down-low with the peoples, and how much he wants to argue that he understands how the mega-corporate world works. It won’t necessarily be an easy chasm to straddle.

I think there is a “progressive” candidate slot available for anyone who wants it. I don’t think Patrick can rightfully claim it yet. But I do believe that with the grinding effects of the campaign trail awaiting him, his edges will become sharper, and he’ll be more willing and able to draw the lines more starkly and sharply. In other words, he’ll become a better candidate – less concerned with being everybody’s friend, and more concerned about defining an alternative future available to us. (He repeatedly cited the influence that teachers had on him by showing him what was “possible” in his own life.)

Ultimately, he’s going to have to define what the “new” Democrat is. There’s a hunger out there for someone to do that. The forces that protect entrenched power in the Democratic party need a real foe to vanquish them and their lethargic ways. But as John Kerry learned only too well, having a sterling resume, complete with maps of the corridors of privilege and power, is not the ticket that will get you there.

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Posted by Charley on the MTA at 01:52 PM in Massachusetts | Permalink

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Comments

Great, he is for gay marriage, he is black, and against death penalty. These are the only issues you mentionmed. These issues are not going to get him elected. Tell me about the issues that will put a democrat in the corner office. Not these abstract ideas like a progressive vision and "get beyond politics as a bloodsport". As Homer Simpson would say "What the hell is that!" These are abstact ideas that mean nothing to most people but Dems. After they assure each other about gay rights, abortion, and the teacher's union.
If i had another place to go besides this party i would.

Posted by: The Trol | Mar 27, 2005 2:16:43 PM

Hey, thanks for hosting these reflections and comments on Deval Patrick's emerging candidacy. We have our own opportunity here on Cape Cod when he addresses the Cape and Islands Democratic Council on April 30th. There are a lot of us here waiting to see who can fill that "progressive slot" in an effective and (OK, I'm going to say it) "charismatic" enough way to offer some promise of a successful campaign. I'd still sign on for a Harshbarger return candidacy, but failing that, I'm ready to see who the next generation's candidate is. Maybe its Deval Patrick. But, it's got to be somebody pretty soon.

Posted by: len stewart | Mar 28, 2005 7:43:21 AM

Harshbarger?
With thinking like len's we will never get back to the corner office. What did Harshbarger have to offerr, other then telling everybody that he is more ethical then most.
A schmuck if there ever was one.

Posted by: The troll | Mar 28, 2005 8:20:13 AM

I too am concerned that by simply running, Mr. Patrick will be handed the mantle of the progressive candidate. He still has a lot of work to do to explain why he's running and present his candidacy as one of the choices, and not only as the default candidate through process of elimination.

We need to be smart and ask the right questions. In a recent Lowell Sun interview, Mr. Patrick was asked how he would improve the economy. His response sounded very familiar. He said that he believes that through his background and relationships in corporate America, he will be able to convince businesses to move to Massachusetts.

Posted by: Blue Brother | Mar 28, 2005 12:44:09 PM

You are right blue. Plus if Mitt Romney, who has a real business background can't bring businesses to MA why should Patrick think he can.
Let's be honest, Patrick was brought in to corporate america to keep eeoc at bay. He was brought in as a one trick pony and it wasn't for his business background. And do we want a candidate identifierd as the progressive choice. Progressive is also code word for lefty liberal. Not popular with the silent majority voting in november.

Posted by: The troll | Mar 28, 2005 2:09:13 PM

I found this in Hotline:

Boston Herald's "The Buzz" reports "It just might be a bit difficult" for Patrick press sec. Kahlil Byrd to really attack Gov. Mitt Romney (R) as the GOV race gets going. Byrd gave $100 to Romney in '02, as Romney began his campaign for GOV. Byrd: "I once thought that Mitt Romney was the candidate to provide bold leadership for this state. I was obviously wrong, and I think Deval Patrick is the leader we need." Byrd "has given the same amount -- no more, no less -- to Patrick's campaign."
More "Buzz: MA Dem chair Phil Johnston "is starting to hear the boo birds again from disgruntled members of the party faithful who fear he's dropped the ball on holding" Gov. Mitt Romney's (R) "feet to the fire." Johnston "hasn't led any kind of sustained, coordinated attack on Romney and the GOP, according to party insiders, who fear" Romney "is gaining valuable ground, despite his obvious vulnerabilities" (3/27).

Posted by: Blue Brother | Mar 28, 2005 2:30:31 PM

The other day I saw the interview about Deval patrick by Janet Wu ( a local Boston television reporter). One of her first questions was why Patrick doesn't try running for a lower office, like say state legislature. It's interesting becuase I never think I heard anyone complain when George W. Bush ran for Governor of Texas with no politcal experience. He was just a part owner (not even majority owner) of the Texas Rangers when he ran. We have to stop this double standard for black candidates and white candidates. What were Mitt Romney's elected postions beore he became Governor or how about Arnold Schwaznegger, or William Weld. But I never heard fols like Wu question whether they are "qualified". Again, it shows that America has a long way to go before she will accept blacks on equal footing as whites. I guess the only black person who should be governor or senator or president should be Harvard College, Harvard Law, city councillor, state senator, and lieutenant governor and have least started one business. Then he/she maybe qualified enough.

Posted by: Jay | Apr 1, 2005 4:58:45 AM

Jay,

I'm not sure that it's a black/white thing, although it may be. I was born and raised in Massachusetts, but I just moved back after 6 years away. So I'm not sure that I know all the race issues.

My guess is that it's more a Republican/ Democrat thing. It's true that Larry Summers is a Democrat, but he's also a neoliberal (big on trade, can't stand all of those WTO protesters, harsh on unions) of the type who makes the corporate people happy. In short, the Republicans are happy to jump on board his wagon.

It may also be that people think they know what they're buying when they choose the Republican brand. The particular candidate is less important. See Bill Bradley's NY Times op-ed, though that may not be true in MA.

Posted by: Abby (who wishes she had a cool blog posting name) | Apr 7, 2005 11:17:35 AM

Jay, it's definitely not a black/white thing. People, especially Democrats criticized Bush and Romney when they first ran respectively for Congress and Senate. We then raised the same arguments again when they both ran for governor of their states. My guess is given that Deval has even less political experience than Bush and Romney did when they ran for governor of TX and MA, he will continue to be dogged by that question. Janet Wu was only doing her job and that was to ask the question all voters should be asking of Deval. Besides, he has a great answer for question.

Posted by: Blue Brother | Apr 12, 2005 1:44:11 AM

Source: Deval Patrick set to announce campaign for governor

By Steve LeBlanc, Associated Press Writer | April 13, 2005

BOSTON --The Democratic campaign for governor is about to get more interesting.

Deval Patrick, a former Clinton Justice Department official and Milton resident, will formally announce Thursday that he is jumping into the 2006 race for the state's top office, a Democrat close to the campaign told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

"He's running for governor," the source said Wednesday. "He's looking forward to talking to people about his message."

Patrick has publicly weighed a run for months, setting up a Boston campaign office, opening a campaign account and touring the state. He also donated $100,000 out of his own pocket to his campaign.

Although Patrick will be the first candidate to formally announce, Democratic state Attorney General Thomas Reilly is the presumed front-runner in the race.

Reilly began the year with more than $2.2 million in his campaign account, the most of any candidate for state office. He has also enlisted top Democratic operatives and made little secret of his ambitions for the governor's office.

Reilly added an estimated $250,000 to that total at a major fund-raiser last month.

Democratic Secretary of State William Galvin is also weighing a campaign but has yet to make any formal announcement.

Patrick's entrance into the race could spark a heated, and expensive Democratic primary battle. The Democrats have lost every campaign for the governor's office since 1990 when former Republican Gov. William Weld won election.

It could also put pressure on Reilly and Galvin to make their own announcements sooner.

Patrick, who has never held elected office in Massachusetts, faces several daunting hurdles, among them raising the millions of dollars and luring in the campaign staff needed to mount an effective campaign.

Patrick has said he has no intention of financing his campaign primarily out of his own pocket.

He also has little of the name recognition of Reilly or Republican Gov. Mitt Romney, who has said he plans to run for re-election. Romney has also been mentioned as a possible presidential contender in 2008.

But Patrick could bring a fresh face to a party that typically relies on familiar names when picking candidates for top offices.

Patrick served as the top federal civil rights enforcer in the Clinton administration. He later spent three years as the top attorney for Coca-Cola Co. during which time he dealt with high-profile lawsuits and two ongoing federal investigations.

Patrick has said in recent weeks that he if he decided to run, he would try to reach out to disenfranchised voters.

Patrick is expected to make the announcement during a series of media interviews Thursday.

Posted by: Blue Brother | Apr 14, 2005 1:00:42 AM

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