Former Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts is considering an 11th-hour entry into the 2020 Democratic primary. Here’s a look at his background and where he stands on some of the major issues in the race.
Growing up on Chicago’s South Side
Mr. Patrick, 63, grew up in the 1950s and ’60s on Chicago’s South Side, then a neighborhood of Southern transplants, where he recalls being steeped in Southern culture and food, as well as Sundays given over to church services. (His speech retains a hint of a Southern cadence.)
He also remembers being poor. His jazz musician father, Pat Patrick, was largely out of the picture. In a speech last year to the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, Mr. Patrick told the story of how he, his mother and his sister, who were forced to move in to his grandparents’ two-bedroom tenement apartment, had to share a bunk bed in one of the rooms. “We would rotate from the top bunk to the bottom bunk to the floor, every third night on the floor,” he said.
A pivotal moment in his life came when one of Mr. Patrick’s public middle-school teachers recognized his intellect and contacted a nonprofit agency to arrange for Mr. Patrick’s scholarship to Milton Academy in Massachusetts.
From there, he went on to Harvard for both undergraduate studies and law school. After graduating, he worked as a lawyer for the N.A.A.C.P. Legal Defense and Educational Fund in the early 1980s, focusing primarily on death penalty and voting rights cases.
He first encountered Bill Clinton, then the governor of Arkansas, when he sued him in a voting case. Mr. Clinton later appointed Mr. Patrick assistant attorney general for civil rights, the nation’s top civil rights post.
Shifting into the private sector, Mr. Patrick became general counsel at Texaco, where he helped carry out a race discrimination settlement, and later took a top position at Coca-Cola.
He declared his candidacy for governor in 2005 and ran as an outsider and heavy underdog who leveraged grass-roots support and excitement to soundly defeat two politically seasoned opponents in the Democratic primary, becoming the first black governor of Massachusetts.
“I came here to change politics as usual,” Mr. Patrick said at the state Democratic convention in 2006. “Because what’s missing from politics as usual is hope. We have been governed for too long by fear and low aim and salesmanship.”
Eight years in office, then Bain Capital
Mr. Patrick spent part of his first term as a surrogate for his friend and then-Senator Barack Obama of Illinois. After a tough re-election fight in 2010, Mr. Patrick won a second term, defeating Charlie Baker, a Republican, but did not seek a third term in 2014.
While his time in office was mostly free of major controversy, one notable exception involved a case in which Mr. Patrick was accused of interfering when state officials tried to list his brother-in-law, Bernard Sigh, as a sex offender in Massachusetts. A hearing officer ruled that Mr. Sigh did not need to register.
Mr. Sigh had been convicted of the spousal rape of Mr. Patrick’s sister, Rhonda, in California in 1993. After the two reconciled and moved to Massachusetts, Mr. Sigh this year was again convicted of raping Mr. Patrick’s sister — and sentenced to six to eight years in prison.
After leaving office, Mr. Patrick joined the private equity firm Bain Capital that Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, helped found, as a partner to focus on socially oriented investments.
In late 2018, Mr. Patrick announced that he would not enter the presidential race in 2020, citing the “cruelty of our elections process.”
His wife, Diane Patrick, a labor attorney, had been hospitalized with depression early in his first term as governor under the weight of negative media articles. In announcing his initial decision not to run, Mr. Patrick also disclosed that his wife had been recently diagnosed with stage 1 uterine cancer and had undergone surgery, adding that her prognosis was excellent.
Ms. Patrick is a granddaughter of Bertram L. Baker, Brooklyn’s first black elected official.
Despite his initial reservations, last month, when he was asked to fully rule out the prospect of a last-minute entry, Mr. Patrick said: “Don’t ask me that question.”
Patrick on the issues
Mr. Patrick is viewed as a progressive, but a moderate one in the image of Mr. Obama. His rhetoric is notable for its upbeat message, and he has called for a return to goodness in America. “It’s time we learned to shout kindness, to shout justice, and to shout compassion,” he said last year during an address to Cleveland’s Legal Aid Society.
Here’s a look at a few key moments from his time as governor that may offer a window into his policy priorities.
Transit and infrastructure
During his second term as governor, Mr. Patrick pushed for and passed a $13 billion transportation overhaul aimed at repairing and upgrading worn-out bridges, roads and commuter lines and also at reviving train service. The legislative victory gave him a signature achievement as he prepared to leave office.
During a commencement address in 2007, Mr. Patrick outlined a 10-year education proposal that included universal prekindergarten and free community college.
Though his goals in education were not realized, Mr. Patrick was widely praised for helping to keep student performance high while instituting reforms aimed at closing the achievement gap between students of different socioeconomic backgrounds.
Mr. Patrick was regarded as an early proponent of reducing carbon emissions. In 2008, he signed a bill that made Massachusetts a leader in the production and use of biofuels. The law required that all diesel and home heating oil sold in the state contain at least 5 percent biofuel by 2013.
Mr. Patrick helped lead the charge to defeat a 2007 constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman. At the time, Massachusetts was the only state where same-sex marriage was legal, though five states allowed civil unions or their equivalent. In 2008, Mr. Patrick’s daughter Katherine came out as gay and in 2015 she was engaged to be married.