Governor Deval Patrick, entering a new stage in his political career, is opening a federal political action committee that will pay for his expenses as he travels the country as a prominent spokesman for President Obama’s reelection campaign.
The as-yet unnamed PAC will allow the governor to solicit donations of up to $5,000 to pay for his travel expenses and security details, Patrick advisers said.
“In a year marked by deep divisions in our political discourse, Governor Patrick won reelection with a positive campaign about our shared values,” David O’Brien, who will be the director of the committee, said in a statement. “Our state’s economy, schools and health care system are the envy of the nation so the governor has a very good story to tell."
Patrick is expected to play a significant role in the president’s reelection effort because the governor’s own successful reelection campaign is viewed by Democrats as a template for the president, and the state’s health care law served as model for Obama’s national law.
“He’s one of the few successful Democratic governors who had a nice, substantive victory, and he’s obviously a model for Obama’s own reelection,” said Elaine C. Kamarck, an at-large member of the Democratic National Committee.
“I suspect that he’s going to be a very powerful voice out there, countering all the misinformation about Obama’s health care law because of the experience in Massachusetts,” said Kamarck, who lives on Cape Cod. “It’s sort of a logical next step for him in his second term.”
Patrick, a friend of Obama, has said for weeks that he wants to be a major player in the president’s campaign.
Just before Christmas, he met with the president at the White House to discuss what role he might play in the campaign. In recent weeks, he formalized plans to open the federal account after discussing the idea with Tim Kaine, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, in Washington, and with Obama adviser David Axelrod, in Chicago.
The meetings led to speculation that the governor might replace Kaine as chairman of the DNC. But Patrick’s senior advisers insist he has not been offered, nor he would accept, that role.
Patrick advisers also said they believed the formation of his federal PAC would quell speculation about the governor’s ambitions for national political office. They said the committee funds can only be used by Patrick to boost other federal candidates, and that only $5,000 could ever be used to help his own campaign, if he were to seek federal office.
The governor has insisted that he will not seek national office, and that he plans to serve out his second – and, he says final, term -- and then return to the privates sector.
Patrick, however, has been raising his national profile since winning reelection in November. On March 5, he will fly to Denver, where he is to be the keynote speaker at the Colorado Democratic Party’s annual dinner. He is planning appearances in Chicago, New York, Washington, and Boston to promote his memoir, “A Reason to Believe,” due out in April.
Patrick and Obama are fellow Harvard Law graduates who share roots in Chicago. They have known each other since the mid-1990s, when they were introduced by Abner J. Mikva, a former federal judge, according to Patrick’s memoir. Since then, they have grown close, Patrick says. In 2005, Obama, then a freshman US senator, was one of the first people to offer his support to Patrick’s nascent campaign for governor, and offered to hold a fund-raiser for him.
On the beat
Columnist Shirley Leung says Boston mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh should focus on middle-class housing. Read more