MANCHESTER, N.H. — With results showing him tracking far back in the Democratic field Tuesday night, former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick told supporters he and his wife will take the night before making "some decisions” about the future of his presidential campaign, signaling a potential end to his nascent bid.
Patrick, surrounded by roughly 60 supporters and staff at a Manchester brewery, said he was proud of the work his campaign did in the three months since he launched his long-shot run and that he still believes in the case he’s made to voters.
But with more than 90 percent of precincts reporting, the Democrat had gathered less than 1 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results. They crystallized the likelihood of an outcome Patrick had hoped to avoid after spending more than 30 days since November in the first-in-the-nation-primary state.
"We needed the winds from New Hampshire at our back to carry us on in this campaign,” a reflective Patrick told the crowd, noting he and staff had been going since 5:30 a.m. "We feel as tired as you. [My wife] Diane and I are going to go home and rest and reflect on this outcome and make some decisions tomorrow morning about what the future of this campaign can and should be.”
Should Patrick exit, he’d add to the parade of hope-against-hope candidates leaving the trail after disappointing finishes Tuesday. Entrepreneur Andrew Yang and Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado both announced Tuesday that they were ending their campaigns as it became clear Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota had lifted to the top of the field in New Hampshire.
Patrick had said earlier Tuesday that he planned to spend Wednesday in South Carolina ahead of its Feb. 29 primary.
"We had a case to make and we have a case to make. And I’m proud of that. And I’m proud of all of you for helping me make it,” Patrick said during his 20-minute speech. "No matter what decision we make tomorrow morning about the practical ability of this campaign to continue, I’m going to stay involved. And so must you.”
Patrick had initially weighed a presidential bid in 2018 but decided against it that December after his wife, Diane, was diagnosed with stage 1 uterine cancer and underwent surgery before Thanksgiving. She recovered, and with the Democratic field still amazingly fluid, Patrick jumped into the race in November, saying he didn’t "want to see us miss that chance.”
Ever since, he’s had to push back on questions about the timing of his decision, and lamented Tuesday that his campaign has been "trapped in some ways, limited in lots of ways, by this narrative about being late from the very beginning.”
"I got in as soon as I could and not a minute before I should have. Not a minute,” Patrick said, looking toward Diane, who became emotional as supporters delivered a sustained applause.
Patrick had spent Tuesday making what he said would be 32 stops around the state. Time has been a finite resource for the former governor but it’s currency he’s invested heavily into New Hampshire. He first appeared as a candidate in Concord, and has returned repeatedly, devoting more than a month’s time in the state — or about one-third of his total time campaigning — including a six-day bus tour that ended last week.
He effectively ignored Iowa, and as the only Black candidate left in the primary field, had hoped to position himself for a good showing in South Carolina.
But it’s New Hampshire that represented the first time in nearly a decade he actually appeared on a ballot. It also helped provide a sign whether Patrick, as the nonbillionaire who jumped into the race late last year, could break through into the electoral consciousness.
Patrick himself has likened his campaign to a "Hail Mary from two stadiums over.” Clumped into a field of nearly a dozen major candidates, he pitched himself as a pragmatic progressive, eschewing ideas such as Medicare-for-All to trumpet his record as governor, when he helped implement Massachusetts’ landmark health care law.
Hurdles — both real and perceived — have littered his path, of course. While Klobuchar rode a wave of momentum into the first-in-the-nation primary and Sanders long hovered as a Granite State favorite, Patrick campaigned in relative obscurity, drawing little of the national attention that has helped buoy his opponents.
He’s been significantly outraised by others in the race, and has had to rely on a super PAC to bolster his air time in New Hampshire as part of its announced $2 million ad buy.
"People are here in this room because they believe in him, they’ve worked with him, they know what he is all about regardless of the outcome,” said Tim Murray, who served as lieutenant governor under Patrick and helped his campaign in New Hampshire. "I think people are proud to support him based upon his record and based on his vision.”
After wrapping his remarks at his election party, Patrick moved toward the door, shaking hands along the way as his supporters gave a long applause. And with a look back and a wave, he was gone.