Our Opinion: Patrick rethinks taking the journey

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At a time when the Democratic Party's large field of presidential candidates should be winnowing down it appears poised to get even larger. This reflects the disquieting concern on the part of many Democrats that with the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary looming a candidate who will unite enough voters across the nation and in critical purple states to defeat President Trump next November has not emerged.

Billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg shook up the race when he suggested he may throw his hat in the ring. On Monday came news reports that former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick may enter the Democratic competition.

The party establishment worries that Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, whose campaign has caught fire of late, and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont are too liberal to win in November. The concept of Medicare For All is seen as too radical, which assumes that Americans are actually fond of their health insurance companies. Both are also seen as open to smearing as "socialists," although voters who are too young to remember the Red Menace, the Domino Theory and other Cold War era artifacts may wonder why that word should scare them.

Moderates worry that former the campaign of former Vice President Joe Biden has stalled and the candidate spends too much time looking backward at the presidency of Barack Obama. Other moderates in the field, like Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, continue to poll in the single digits. Perhaps someone will ride to the rescue?

Mr. Patrick, who owns a home in Richmond, was an effective and popular two-term governor who fought his battles, usually with legislative leaders of his own party, vigorously but never engaged in the ugly discourse that mars contemporary politics in Washington. Almost a year ago, however, the governor announced in a statement that he would not run for president because "knowing that the cruelty of our elections process would ultimately splash back on people whom Diane [Patrick's wife] and I love, but who hadn't signed up for the journey, was more than I could ask." That certainly constituted a good reason for not running for the White House, although it is unfortunate that the political climate is so vile that it would chase away good candidates.

If Mr. Patrick is indeed considering a run for presidency a year later he must see the same opening for a new face that many Democrats see. Because money dominates the political process in the United States he would face a tough road ahead that won't concern the deep-pocketed Mr. Bloomberg. His Massachusetts rival, Elizabeth Warren, has a huge fund-raising advantage at this point and the governor would presumably be appealing to many of the same financial sources that she has already made connections with.

And the cruel elections process that the former governor referred to in his statement of last December hasn't changed for the better since. For an African-American running a national campaign as opposed to a Massachusetts campaign that process can be uniquely cruel. Mr. Patrick would bring plenty to the race, but the hour is late and the journey a difficult one for Mr. Patrick and anyone in his circle who hasn't signed up for it.

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