Obama Picks His Old Friend Deval Patrick for President in 2020

Obama Picks His Old Friend Deval Patrick for President in 2020

Has grassroots democracy become an afterthought for Democrats?

Is America ready for “another” Black president?  Some leading Democrats, including former President Obama, already have one in mind:  former two-term Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick.

In fact, they’re busy working behind the scenes to promote Patrick’s candidacy, even though the would-be nominee has yet to indicate publicly whether he’s genuinely interested in the job — and the election is still more than three years away.

Patrick is no household name among the Democratic rank-and-file.  But he’s the darling of long-time Obama boosters and operatives like Valerie Jarrett, who played a powerful and controversial role in Obama’s recent administration.   David Axelod, the former president’s one-time campaign manager, is also promoting Patrick’s candidacy.

But their effort to launch what amounts to a pre-emptive nominating “coup” is already producing a backlash from other Democrats still smarting from their party’s heavy-handed attempts to tilt the process in favor of Hillary Clinton in 2016 – with disastrous results.

“I want to see a wide-open a process where there are no front-runners,” Democratic strategist Jim Manley said in a recent interview with The Hill. “The idea that anyone is out there pushing for one person or another is a mistake.”

Jamal Simmons, a long-time Obama supporter, agrees.  “There is little appetite in the party to settle on a candidate early,” he insists.

But the push by Obama’s inner circle to anoint Patrick also reflects the stark reality that the Democrats are playing defense now — with an aging leadership bench.  Bernie Sanders still has a reservoir of support that he has moved to consolidate in recent months.  But like Warren, the darling of party liberals, he’s not a unifying figure.  Former vice president Joe Biden clearly is, but his time has probably passed, most observers say.

And Clinton is widely considered to be near-radioactive after last spring’s embarrassing campaign to reclaim the mantle of party standard-bearer.

All four figures are veteran Washington politicians approaching 70 and beyond.  Even Sanders and Warren, despite their fiery anti-Trump rhetoric, often sound tired and bitter on the stump.  In a party that lost White millennial voters to Trump, 48-43 – its worst showing with this demographic in decades – there is a pressing need to find a candidate that looks and sounds like a forward-looking visionary.

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