CONCORD — Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat, threw a last-minute hat in the ring Thursday, saying he feels he can bring that special something that seems to be missing from the race.
Patrick filed Thursday to enter the New Hampshire primary. He was followed on Friday, the deadline for filing, by New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who also came to Concord to sign up.
Speaking to reporters from the Secretary of State’s Office at the New Hampshire State House with his wife, Diane, by his side, Patrick said:“There is a once-in-a-lifetime appetite today to bring big solutions — big enough for the challenges we face — but I think there has to be more than the big solutions. We have to use those solutions to heal us.”
Many of the candidates are his friends, Patrick said.
“They have made me proud to be a Democrat. But in many ways it has felt to me watching the race unfold that we are beginning to break into two camps of nostalgia on the one hand and big ideas sort of my way or no way on the other.
“I think we have to be about how we bring people in and how we bring people along and how we yield to the possibility that somebody else or even some other party may have a good idea, as good or better than our own,” said the 63-year-old Chicago native.
Patrick is the 18th Democratic candidate to enter an unusually crowded field. He explored making a run last year, but decided against it because his wife was fighting cancer, and has since fully recovered.
“The American dream has become more and more out of reach over time,” Patrick said.
And the anger and anxiety people feel as a result is not only justified. It’s familiar.
Patrick felt the same feelings when the steel mills closed in Chicago when he was growing up on the South Side and when opioids took over in the community.
With only a day to go before the deadline closed to make it onto the New Hampshire first-in-the nation primary ballot, Patrick, a businessman, author and civil rights attorney, spoke of his humble origins growing up in Chicago.
His family sometimes relied on welfare and although the public schools were underfunded, inadequate and sometimes violent, he learned a sense of community from the adults and families who watched out for each other.
Yes, he said he is coming late to the race, but is ready.
“I’m excited. I’m humbled. I’m fired up,” Patrick said.
Meantime, Booker has been coming to New Hampshire for more than a year, he’s built an organization, has 87 endorsements, along with a full staff and a host of volunteers. Despite pushing all the right buttons, the New Jersey senator remains in the low single-digits in polling.
But as he filed for the first-in-the-nation primary ballot Friday — the last major presidential candidate to do so — the 50-year-old was undaunted by the poll numbers or the potential complications of having a new competitor conveying much the same message that he has for months.
Comparing himself to candidates who became president despite having poor New Hampshire poll numbers a few months, or even several weeks, ahead of the primary, Booker insisted he has the “right stuff” to win the primary.
“I'm patient,” he said.
Meeting with reporters after he signed the necessary paperwork and handed his $1,000 filing fee to Secretary of State Bill Gardner, Booker refused to criticize the newest candidate in the race, Patrick, after the former Massachusetts governor made a surprise entrance into the race on Thursday, arguing that those at the top of the current field have flaws of being either too “nostalgic” or too headstrong and inflexible.
“I do not take it as a personal insult that my friends believe that they are the best person to be president,” Booker said.
“The decisions that voters are going to make are by how well I take shots at other Democrats,” Booker said. “In fact, I think in this race, that should be a flaw that people should point out and should make them choose the person that doesn’t take pot shots at other candidates.”
“Whoever wins this race better be the person who can unite the Democratic Party.”