Former Mass. governor getting early financial support to test presidential run

Former Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick (WEBN-TV / Flickr)

By Jenny Rollins
BU News Service

Data visualization by K. Sophie Will.

BOSTON — At the end of August, political operatives connected to former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick launched a political action committee to test a potential run for president. Since then, that PAC has quickly pulled far ahead of PACs connected to other potential Democratic candidates in the 2020 presidential race, according to data recently released by the Center for Responsive Politics.

PACs frequently serve as a way to test the waters for politicians considering running, and the Patrick-connected Reason to Believe PAC has hit the ground running, generating almost $350,000 in contributions in less than two months.

That amount looms over the $47,000 of funding for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who started fundraising over the summer. Recent federal campaign finance data also shows that Reason to Believe is beating out the $232,500 raised by a PAC connected to New York City mayor, Bill de Blasio’s PAC launched in July.

Attorney Michael Avenatti’s PAC is trailing behind with $11,908, the most recent data shows.

The fact that Reason to Believe is picking up this much funding this quickly is notable, explains CRP Individual Contributions Researcher Alex Baumgart.

“It’s a pretty good chunk for a newly formed PAC,” he said. “I expect that they see this as indicative of a pretty solid startup.”

The PAC is hybrid called a Carey committee, meaning that it has two bank accounts that allow it to function as a traditional PAC that can accept up to $5,000 to contribute to a candidate and as a super PAC that can accept unlimited contributions for independent expenditures.

Most of the funding came from Dan Fireman, managing partner of the private equity firm Fireman Capital Partners in Boston, who donated $245,000 and a $5,000 contribution on Sept. 18. The next biggest donors were John Fish, a prominent Boston developer who gave $45,000 and $5,000 on Sept. 28, and Charlie Zink, who donated $20,000 on Sept. 24.

The limited traditional PAC donations came from all over Massachusetts, as well as more spread out places like Oregon and Georgia, the data shows.

Last quarter the PAC spent $17,935, mostly on advertising and consulting services, with $10,000 going to Northwind Strategies, a company belonging to Doug Rubin, Patrick’s former campaign adviser and gubernatorial chief of staff.

Though not started by Patrick himself, the Reason to Believe PAC has the same name as his 2011 autobiography and is run by his former aides, including John Walsh, Patrick’s former campaign manager. The address of the PAC is the same as Rubin’s Northwind Strategies.

The PAC’s goal is to support candidates who are committed to Democratic ideals and grassroots movements and “promoting Governor Patrick’s positive vision for Democrats to rally around in 2018,” according to the Reason to Believe website.

Multiple attempts to contact the PAC’s Boston office were not immediately returned.

There has been a lot of buzz surrounding whether or not Patrick, a personal friend of Barack Obama, will run, though in a televised interview in August he told CNN that he was “not ready” to run in 2020.

However, he has spent the last few weeks traveling to support Democratic candidates in other states. Two weeks ago he was in New Jersey to rally in favor of Josh Welle, running in the 4th Congressional District. The week before in Georgia, he spoke in support Lucy McBath in her race for the 6th Congressional District. Earlier, he visited Mississippi to back Mike Espy and Texas to back Colin Allred.

Massachusetts residents in particular are invested in the 2020 race, with two prominent potential Democratic 2020 candidates emerging from Massachusetts — Patrick and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (recently ranked number one in CNN’s 2020 rankings).

“I liked Patrick when he was in office,” said Wally Tucker, a 65-year-old Brookline resident. “Warren’s caused a big ruckus with all of this DNA business, so maybe it would be good to have another Boston big shot to make us look better if he decides to run after all.”

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