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Deval Patrick launching PAC to boost Joe Biden, other Democrats

Former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick campaigned in New Hampshire earlier this year during his short-lived presidential campaign.
Former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick campaigned in New Hampshire earlier this year during his short-lived presidential campaign.Andrew Harnik/Associated Press

Former governor Deval Patrick, three months removed from his short-lived presidential bid, is reemerging with a political action committee aimed at boosting presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden and Senate and House candidates, both this fall and beyond.

The TogetherFund PAC intends to work alongside campaigns and other organizations in competitive states and districts where the Democratic Party is trying to add seats in Congress, according to Patrick and aides.

Exactly how and where is to be determined, he said. But the Boston-based committee offers Patrick the potential of operating from a high-profile platform, where he can tap back into fund-raising networks and spread help to like-minded Democrats as he maps a path in the national political landscape.

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Patrick said he intends to be involved with the committee for the next two to three election cycles, and said a repeat bid at political office is “not on the immediate horizon, to be sure.”

“I took my shot this last cycle. Now, I want to help others," said Patrick, who had initially decided in late 2018 against running for president before launching a belated bid and finishing far back in the Democratic field in the New Hampshire primary in February.

“This PAC is about more than just this cycle. I want this to be ongoing for the next several," Patrick, 63, said. “I hope it takes on a life of its own and it proves its value over time.”

Patrick follows other former White House candidates in pivoting to new ways to stay involved this fall. Pete Buttigieg, the former South Bend, Ind., mayor, last month started his own PAC, and Senator Amy Klobuchar launched an effort to help a slate of House and Senate candidates.

Patrick’s committee is rooted in high-level concepts he embraced as a candidate: Promoting social justice, political collaboration, and “generational responsibility."

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In a nearly seven-minute launch video, Patrick does not mention Biden, whom Patrick had already endorsed, or other candidates by name. But he stresses that Democrats “cannot waste time quarreling over relatively small policy differences when the times demand results scaled to meet the challenges before us.”

Patrick said the PAC’s effort will likely include networking in support of campaigns and using social media to spread messaging beyond “trafficking snark.” But as the novel coronavirus pandemic upends the traditional trappings of campaigning this fall, its exact path is still unclear.

“Isn’t everybody trying to sort out that question?” Patrick said in a Globe interview. “The one thing we’re not going to be doing is ads. There are lots of other people who do that stuff.”

He also declined to say which House and Senate races he could target, saying he wants “to have enough conversations with the campaigns themselves." He plans to release a list in the next 7 to 10 days.

“I just don’t want to say, ‘I think this is important.’ I want to be aligned with the campaigns we’re focused on,” he said.

During his presidential bid, Patrick promoted tightening the rules on political action committees, and promised to seek a path toward “abolishing Super PACs," the types of committees allowed to take and spend unlimited amounts of money in backing, or opposing, individual candidates.

Aides stressed that the Together Fund is not registered as a super PAC, meaning individual donations are capped at $5,000 per year and it is allowed to give money directly to federal candidates, up to $2,700 per election.

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But he has also created a separate, tax-exempt account, known as a 527 political organization, which can take unlimited contributions and spend toward political activities. That account will “support Democratic candidates for federal office and for state governors,” according to paperwork filed with the IRS.

The TogetherFund PAC’s initial funding came from a super PAC created to boost his presidential bid that spent more than $2.4 million. The TogetherFund’s initial fund-raising report with the Federal Election Commission does not show a transfer from the Reason to Believe PAC, but Patrick said it was a roughly $400,000 deposit. The super PAC had $343,252 on hand at the end of March, filings show.

Patrick pledged transparency around donations and spending. Asked if that will include limiting what types of groups it will accept donations from, Patrick said, “We haven’t crossed the bridge yet.”

“If the reforms we need ultimately mean that I have to find a less costly way to be engaged, that’s fine,” Patrick said. “But while we have the rules we do, I’m going to use this way to help. And I’m going to do it with integrity.”

The operation includes several of Patrick’s former political hands, including Cecilia Ugarte Baldwin, who worked on his presidential campaign, and three of his former chiefs of staff at the State House: Brendan Ryan, now serving as the PAC’s political director; Arthur Bernard, one of its board members; and Doug Rubin, also a long-time Patrick political adviser now serving as a consultant.

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Matt Stout can be reached at matt.stout@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mattpstout