Mr. Patrick will have to hope for the kind of attention money can’t buy. And judging from an hour-long conversation with him at The Post on Tuesday, we’d say he deserves at least a hearing. On paper, the 63-year-old has always been a plausible contender: He rose from humble beginnings on the South Side of Chicago to attend college and law school at Harvard; pursued both public-interest and corporate law before serving the Clinton administration as assistant attorney general for civil rights; and won election as Massachusetts’ chief executive twice, in 2006 and 2010. In that position, he not only advanced progressive goals in education and environmental policy but also ably steered the state through crisis when terrorist bombers struck the Boston Marathon in 2013.
Mr. Patrick sets out ambitious goals for social and political modernization, leavened by a former executive’s sense of practicality. “To me, nowadays, a moderate is a progressive who actually gets stuff done,” he remarked. Mr. Patrick rejects the wealth tax advocated by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in favor of a more achievable but also progressive increase in estate, individual and corporate rates with reduction of loopholes. He is also the only Democrat who still embraces a key element of his close friend former president Barack Obama’s foreign policy agenda: to challenge China on the basis of a U.S-led free-trade bloc.
Like Mr. Obama’s vice president, Joe Biden, Mr. Patrick depicts the 2020 election as a struggle to restore national unity, but he could wage it drawing on unique life experiences as an African American man who is half a generation younger than Mr. Biden and “learned early on,” as he puts it, “to decide who I was and be that all the time.” Words like “opportunity” and “leadership” recur in Mr. Patrick’s conception of how to take on President Trump. “There are two leadership styles at times like these,” he said. “One is to divide us for political gain. The other is to draw us together in addressing common challenges, which starts with understanding how much in common we have in these challenges. Both, by the way, are, historically speaking, American. Only one is patriotic. Only one.”
Mr. Patrick had originally intended to enter the race in late 2018 but changed plans when his wife was diagnosed with cancer — which has now resolved. He readily admits that showing up late for the race is a handicap, possibly an insurmountable one. We’d say Democrats should be pleased there is still time in their tumultuous campaign for the former governor to make his case.
Correction: An earlier version of this editorial incorrectly stated The Post’s meeting with Deval Patrick was Wednesday. The meeting was Tuesday. This version has been corrected.