Some say he could energize Democrats
Deval Patrick, the nation's former top civil-rights enforcer and an experienced legal executive at two multinational corporations, is laying the groundwork for a possible campaign for governor, a move that would make him the first major African-American candidate for governor in the state's history.
In an interview late last week, Patrick, a Democrat, confirmed that he is spending the coming months speaking with an array of political and civic leaders to test the waters for his candidacy.
''I am spending almost all my time for the next month or two to figure it out," said Patrick, a 48-year-old native of Chicago's South Side. ''I have a lot of homework to do."
Patrick, who served from 1994 to 1997 as President Clinton's assistant attorney general in charge of civil rights, resigned last month after nearly four years as the chief legal counsel to
, where he was responsible for its worldwide legal affairs.
Patrick, who earned both an undergraduate degree and a law degree from Harvard, and his wife, Diane, live in Milton, where he has kept a legal residence while working out of state. His wife is a partner at Ropes & Gray, where she works on labor and employment issues. They have two daughters.
If Patrick were to run, he would be joining a field that already includes Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly, who has told supporters he will seek the Democratic nomination next year. Another potentially major candidate, Secretary of State William F. Galvin, said he is seriously considering running.
The Democrats lost what could have been a significant candidacy a week ago when US Representative Michael Capuano, the former mayor of Somerville, said after several months of consideration that he would not seek the party's nomination.
A decision by Patrick to jump into the race would reshape the campaign significantly and surely bring national attention to the contest.
Although he has no experience in electoral politics, his background, professional experience, and his race would offer Massachusetts Democrats a nontraditional choice.
Whether he can generate the kind of excitement to be an effective statewide candidate is not clear. As a first-time candidate, Patrick has a sharp learning curve as he tries to navigate the treacherous back alleys of Massachusetts politics.
Patrick will plunge into a world where he has no proven skills of hobnobbing with voters, jockeying with skilled political leaders, handling an aggressive media, and dealing with the party's powerful and demanding special interest groups.
Patrick must also take a crash course on the mechanics of campaigns. He
has no political base or organization, and he would have to raise
millions of dollars. Reilly has $2.2 million in his account. Galvin has
more than $1.5 million.
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