He wasn’t on the ballot — he hasn’t been since 2010 — but former Governor Deval Patrick racked up some political wins in this year’s midterm elections.
A handful of candidates Patrick endorsed this cycle are now on their way to the 116th Congress. Also headed to Washington are more than a dozen representatives backed by the nascent Reason to Believe PAC, an organization that supports progressive candidates and causes. The PAC's founders worked closely with Patrick in the corner office.
Of the 27 Democratic candidates the PAC endorsed, 14 won, according to a WGBH review of New York Times election results. Nine of those winning candidates — many of whom focused their campaigns on tackling soaring healthcare costs and rejected corporate PAC money — ended up flipping GOP-controlled seats, helping Democrats reclaim the majority in the House of Representatives.
Thirteen of the PAC-backed candidates lost their races, including J.D. Scholten of Iowa. Scholten received an 11th-hour burst of national attention in his bid to unseat Republican Steve King, who has a history of making inflammatory racial statements.
In total, Reason to Believe raised nearly $502,000 between August and mid-October, according to federal election filings.
“I think we’re very excited with the candidates we got involved with ... both with the ones that won and ones that lost,” said Patrick's former Chief of Staff and strategist Doug Rubin, who founded the consulting firm Northwind Strategies and consults for Reason to Believe.
Rubin also said the PAC is currently taking stock of the lessons learned from the 2018 midterms.
Despite sharing many of the same progressive stances as Reason to Believe’s candidates and a kinship with the PAC’s founders, Patrick was not involved in establishing the organization nor guiding its election activities, Rubin said. But a review of the former governor’s Twitter account found there was some overlap with candidates Patrick supported and those on the PAC’s endorsement roster.
Patrick also endorsed candidates not backed by the PAC, including Democrats Lucy McBath of Georgia, Joe Cunningham of South Carolina, Donna Shalala of Florida and Lauren Underwood of Illinois, all of whom either toppled Republican incumbents or won open seats in GOP-held districts. Mary Barzee Flores in Florida and Dan McCready of North Carolina lost their races.
Patrick currently works as a managing director at Bain Capital, a private investment firm in Boston, but the creation of the PAC hardly tamped down speculation he might soon vie for a different job come 2020. If he does jump in to the race for president, Patrick would have plenty of company in what is expected to be a crowded field of Democrat hopefuls. So far, at least a dozen candidates are reportedly mulling White House runs and likely shoring up their own base of established political support to boost the legitimacy of their candidacies.
But Rubin doesn’t think Patrick's goal was building up his political bona fides.
“I don’t think he was really focused on what helps or hurts him in the future,” Rubin said, adding that he does not know if Patrick will run for president.
But Patrick's support for this specific cohort of Democrats was not a whim — it was purposeful, according a post-Election Night analysis Patrick wrotein a Nov. 7 blog post.
“[I]t’s encouraging to see that Democrats can compete anywhere as Democrats," Patrick wrote. "I spent my nights and weekends purposefully this fall on Congressional campaigns where Democrats hadn’t competed much or at all in the last several years ... By being themselves, running at the grassroots, and putting country above party, these candidates distinguished themselves and won.”
Last year, Patrick jumped back into the political arena by stumping for Doug Jones in Alabama, who scored a historic upset in defeating Republican Roy Moore, who was accused of sexual misconduct.
In September, Patrick visited Mississippi to campaign for U.S. Senate candidate Mike Espy, who is locked in a runoff against Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith. That election is Tuesday, Nov. 27.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated Congresswoman-elect Lauren Underwood's first name.