Former governor Deval Patrick, whose quixotic presidential campaign never found a toehold in a fluid Democratic field, said Wednesday that he is dropping out of the race following the New Hampshire primary.
“The vote in New Hampshire last night was not enough for us to create the practical wind at the campaign’s back to go on to the next round of voting,” Patrick said in a lengthy statement. "So I have decided to suspend the campaign, effective immediately.
“I am not suspending my commitment to help — there is still work to be done. We are facing the most consequential election of our lifetime. Our democracy itself, let alone our civic commitments to equality, opportunity, and fair play, are at risk.”
Patrick’s decision comes nearly 13 weeks to the day after he launched his belated bid for the White House, hoping to catch fire in an unsettled primary that lacked a front-runner and, he said, a campaign message with broad appeal.
But Patrick struggled to quickly turn heads and hearts, and despite investing heavily in New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary, captured less than 1 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s contest with 97 percent of the precincts reporting, according to unofficial results.
Patrick was the last Black candidate in a field that had once been touted as the most racially diverse in history even before he joined. His exit follows those of Senator Kamala Harris of California and Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey in recent months, and Patrick is the third candidate in less than 24 hours to leave the race. Entrepreneur Andrew Yang, an Asian-American businessman, and Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado both announced Tuesday they were ending their campaigns.
Patrick was tracking to finish ninth among candidates in New Hampshire, and more Democratic primary voters opted to write-in someone’s name than cast a vote for the former two-term governor from a neighboring state, unofficial results show.
Patrick had hinted he could end his bid when he addressed supporters and staff Tuesday night, telling them he and his wife, Diane, planned to “make some decisions” about the future of his campaign. He had been scheduled to travel Wednesday to South Carolina ahead of its Feb. 29 primary.
“We needed the winds from New Hampshire at our back to carry us on in this campaign,” Patrick said during a reflective 20-minute speech Tuesday, during which he praised staff and volunteers and promised he was “going to stay involved.”
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont won the New Hampshire primary, edging Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind.
On the campaign trail, Patrick appeared clear-eyed to the challenges he faced, calling it from the outset a "Hail Mary from two stadiums over.” He initially considered, then decided against, a run in 2018 after his wife was diagnosed with stage 1 uterine cancer and underwent surgery.
Diane Patrick recovered, and in a surprise to even some of his most loyal backers, Deval Patrick entered the Democratic fray in mid-November at about the same time as New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who also had initially decided against running before changing his mind.
But unlike Bloomberg, a billionaire who chose to forgo the early voting states and has used his vast wealth to flood television airwaves with advertising, Patrick constantly faced having to convince those in early-voting states that he didn’t get in too late to win widespread support.
Days after he announced, a Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll found that half of New Hampshire primary voters who were surveyed said he had waited too long for his White House bid and they wouldn’t even consider him.
Patrick said Tuesday his campaign became “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 Tuesday at his election night party, looking toward Diane, who became emotional as supporters delivered a sustained applause.
In his statement Wednesday, he sounded a note of frustration of how “many in the media” described his late entry. As “a direct and limiting consequence,” he said, many people he met while campaigning lamented he didn’t jump in sooner.
“More importantly, I entered the race months before anyone had cast a vote,” Patrick said. “We cannot keep mistaking media narratives for political outcomes. Political outcomes are entirely up to voters. I encourage you to keep on respecting their power to make their hopes a reality — even when the media confuses its essential responsibility to report what happens with its extraordinary power to influence what will.”
What role, if any, Patrick could play in the presidential race going forward is unclear. Before announcing his bid last year, he had served as a political contributor for CBS News. Patrick also resigned in November from Bain Capital, the private equity firm where he had worked since leaving the governor’s office in 2015.
Echoing themes of his presidential campaign, Patrick urged Democrats in his statement Wednesday to reject “false choices” — including that they don’t have to “hate moderation to be a good progressive.”
“We cannot, and will not, defeat Donald Trump by relying exclusively on old labels, poll-tested messages and cable news hits. We must meet people where they are and ask them to do the same for us,” he said.
“No one can stand on the sidelines at a time like this. I, for one, will not,” Patrick said. “Failing to engage risks losing a lot more than an election next November.”