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Super PAC boosts Deval Patrick with $2 million in ads

Deval Patrick.
Deval Patrick.Erin Clark for The Boston Globe/The Boston Globe

A super PAC formed to buttress Governor Deval Patrick’s long-shot presidential campaign said Thursday it intends to run at least $2 million in advertisements supporting the Democrat weeks before voting begins in Iowa and New Hampshire.

The Reason to Believe PAC released a one-minute ad praising Patrick’s work in the Clinton administration and his two terms as governor, and said it would launch the “initial” ad buy in New Hampshire.

The political action committee was formed just weeks after Patrick launched his campaign in mid-November, and is emerging as he’s struggled to gain traction in polling amid the fluid Democratic field.

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The PAC bears the name of Patrick’s 2011 autobiography, as well as a previous iteration of a PAC created by former Patrick aides John Walsh and Doug Rubin. That PAC dissolved in April, and both Walsh and Rubin said they are not involved this time — Walsh is working on Senator Edward J. Markey’s reelection campaign and Rubin is working for businessman Tom Steyer, one of Patrick’s primary rivals.

Rosy Gonzalez Speers, a longtime political aide to Patrick who was serving as a senior adviser to his presidential campaign, has since left, a campaign aide confirmed Thursday.

Speers is now involved with fund-raising for the PAC, a person with knowledge of the committee said.

Its ad emphasizes Patrick’s childhood on Chicago’s South Side and his work as head of the civil rights division of the Justice Department under former president Bill Clinton. It then pivots to his historic gubernatorial victory and the state’s success as a leader in health care and education during his eight-year tenure.

It remains unclear whether it will be enough to help lift Patrick, who characterized his bid as “a Hail Mary from two stadiums over” when he launched it late last year. A Monmouth University poll released Thursday showed Patrick earning less than 1 percent of support among likely Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire. That’s far behind Pete Buttigieg, former vice president Joe Biden, and Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, all of whom were clustered together at the top.

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Patrick said on the day he launched his campaign in November that he wouldn’t reject the help of a super PAC, a position that put him at odds with Warren and Sanders, both of whom have said they’re eschewing private fund-raisers and special interest donations, including super PAC support.

“It’d be hard for me to see how we put all the resources together for an effective campaign without a PAC of some kind,” Patrick told reporters in November. “I don’t know what that is. I don’t know where that will come from. And I wish it weren’t so.”

The PAC’s announcement came almost simultaneously as Patrick posted on Twitter that he was soon releasing a “Democracy Agenda,” and lamented the impact of “dark money,” or political funds in which the donor isn’t disclosed. Super PACs are required to list their donors, but they are allowed to accept money from political nonprofits and other entities that have no legal obligation to reveal their sources.

“Dark money, gerrymandering, and voter suppression lead to outcomes that don’t always represent the majority of Americans,” Patrick wrote Thursday.

Aleigha Cavalier, a Patrick spokeswoman, said Thursday that Patrick supports campaign finance reform, but she argued that his hands are tied when it comes to receiving super PAC help.

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By law, PACs can’t coordinate with the candidates they support.

“It’s unfortunate that super PACs are currently a part of our political system, but they are and they’re helping both parties and candidates up and down the ballot,” Cavalier said. “There’s nothing our campaign can do about that, but a President Patrick would work to stop it.”

The Reason to Believe PAC first filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission on Dec. 9, but it has yet to submit any fund-raising reports. The brief press release it circulated Thursday said that its donors “will be disclosed at the appropriate filing deadlines.”


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