The news that former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is seriously mulling a late entrance into the Democratic presidential primary could give former Gov. Jane Swift unique status.
And not because of what she did as governor, but because of what she hasn’t done after.
Swift, who served for the remainder of the late Gov. Paul Celluci’s term from 2001 to 2003, would become the only living former Massachusetts governor who hasn’t run for president, if Patrick does indeed run.
Gov. Mitt Romney ran twice — first in 2008 and then in 2012, when he won the Republican nomination but lost to President Barack Obama. Gov. Bill Weld is currently running in the Republican primary against President Donald Trump. And Gov. Michael Dukakis won the Democratic nomination in 1988, but lost to President George H.W. Bush.
The remarkable trend was not lost in the wake of The New York Times‘ scoop that Patrick might jump into the 2020 race, even if some observers did leave out Swift.
Weld running. Romney available. All we need is Mike Dukakis to saddle up and every living former Gov of Mass will be in the mix.
— Jon Keller (@kelleratlarge) November 12, 2019
But wait, can we be sure she won’t also jump into the race? According to Swift, we can.
“The only running I am doing is the standard #roadrace type,” the former Republican governor, who has since made a career as an education executive, tweeted Monday night in response to an inquiring Twitter user.
“The fact that I am heading to #Wisconsin for a winter 10 miler is just a weird coincidence,” she added.
The only running I am doing is the standard #roadrace type! The fact that I am heading to #Wisconsin for a winter 10 miler is just a weird coincidence …. but thanks for checkin’ in. https://t.co/eJJ03zjOWx
— jane swift (@janemswift) November 12, 2019
Swift went on to say she is used to being an “outlier” in the club of former Massachusetts governors. After all, she remains the only woman to have ever served as the Bay State’s governor and was the country’s youngest-ever female governor.
“Add this to the list,” Swift wrote Monday.
An avid runner (at least according to her periodic posts and photos on Twitter), the 54-year-old joked that she could probably at least beat her peers in a 10K race or half-marathon, even if Patrick “looks pretty fit.”
Haha. I am used to being an outlier in the #FormerGuvMA club. Add this to the list. (And I bet I could outrun them all in a 10k or Half right now …. although DP looks pretty fit). https://t.co/fueS5A1Ja8
— jane swift (@janemswift) November 12, 2019
No word yet on whether Patrick or any of Swift’s other peers will step up to her challenge of an actual long-distance race.
However, if Patrick does decide to join the presidential race, it would mean that every single occupant of the State House’s corner office from the beginning of Dukakis’s second stint in 1983 to 2015 — with the exception of the less than five-and-a-half year period when Cellucci and Swift served — has run for the White House.
Patrick, who was governor from 2007 to 2015, would also add to the preponderance of Massachusetts natives and elected officials who have already entered the 2020 field.
In addition to Weld’s anti-Trump campaign in the GOP primary, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is among the top-tier candidates in contention for the Democratic nomination. Rep. Seth Moulton also had a short-lived run in the 2020 race. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who grew up in Cambridge, also briefly gave it a shot.
And, like Patrick, former New York City mayor and Medford native Michael Bloomberg is now also reportedly reconsidering his decision not to run. Mike Gravel, a former Alaska senator and Springfield native, (or at least, several of his teenage supporters) also launched a quixotic, mostly-online campaign.
There are also candidates with somewhat looser Massachusetts connections (there’s always one).
South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Julian Castro, a former San Antonio mayor and housing secretary, both attended Harvard (Buttigieg for his undergraduate degree; Castro for law school). Former Vice President Joe Biden’s new super PAC even has Boston ties.
Despite Bay Staters’ apparent interest in the White House, there is another noteworthy pattern: Their recent penchant for losing general elections. In addition to Dukakis and Romney, former Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry also came up short in 2004.
To find the last Bay Stater who actually won a presidential election, you have to go back to President John F. Kennedy — or, if we’re being generous, President George H.W. Bush, who was born in Milton, but is more closely tied to Texas and Maine.
And, of course, that’s only if you don’t count former Somerville resident Barack Obama.