In many ways, former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick (D) was Obama before Obama was Obama.  Patrick was elected the first black governor of Massachusetts in 2006, and his entire campaign was based on the same nebulous “change” mantra that would sweep then-Senator Obama into the White House two years later.

At his first inauguration under uncommonly fair skies in January 2007, the man who a year earlier had been dismissed as a hopeless romantic with no chance of victory carried with him limitless hope for the future — for better schools, fairer housing, racial healing.

“It’s time for a change,” Patrick declared, “and we are that change.”

Sound like Obama’s “we are the change we’ve been waiting for”?  That’s no mistake.

When in 2008 Obama was accused, quite rightly, by the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign of plagiarizing Patrick’s speeches from his ’06 gubernatorial campaign, Patrick defused the controversy, insisting that he had encouraged Obama to use his speeches.

Obama also used Patrick’s “just words” theme (and not as passionately or effectively as Patrick).

Watch:

Like Obama, Patrick has deep roots in Chicago’s South Side, has a Harvard law degree, and is focused on social justice.   Whereas Obama would simply pontificate around specifics, often arrogantly dismissive of anyone who needed an explanation for his policies and agenda, Patrick is quite intelligent and will, if pressed, articulately defend his progressive values.

Patrick, however, prefers to deal in the abstract, so nailing him down on specifics was always a challenge.  This was something that the Obama campaign adopted out of necessity given Obama’s cringe-worthy inability to think on his feet.

Patrick’s name was floated for Attorney General when Obama first took office, but Eric Holder was ultimately awarded that role.

Patrick’s tenure as governor was “complicated” and his preference for dealing in the abstract frustrated Massachusetts lawmakers, most of whom are also Democrats.

The Boston Globe reported in 2015 when Patrick left office:

As he prepares to leave office, Patrick leaves behind a deep imprint on the judiciary, where he has appointed more than 40 percent of the state’s judges, including five of the seven justices of the Supreme Judicial Court. His influence can also be felt in the halls of power, where a loyal network of former aides now hold high positions in the corporate, lobbying, and nonprofit worlds. But he has also alienated many of his allies in the Legislature, who say Patrick frustrated them with a style that was sometimes highhanded and tone deaf.

“He was absolutely phenomenal in terms of the broad themes,” said Representative David Linsky, a Natick Democrat who worked with Patrick on criminal justice issues. “When I think about where the Commonwealth was eight years ago and where it is now, we’re in great shape in a lot of ways. The failings were in the nitty-gritty of running the state. The problem has been in the basic administration of government.”

Patrick took to the DNC stage in 2012 in what was intended to replicate Obama’s 2004 DNC speech that “made Obama president.”

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Since ending his tenure as Massachusetts’ governor, Patrick has kept his hand in, most notably in his outspoken opposition to Jeff Sessions becoming Attorney General.

It was, then, with little surprise that I read that the Obama team is now urging Patrick to run for president in 2020.

The Washington Free Beacon reports:

Several top aides to former President Barack Obama are encouraging former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D.) to run for president in 2020.

Patrick has had meetings with former Obama strategist David Axelrod, who has even devised a political plan for Patrick to be able to win the White House, Politicoreported Tuesday.

Obama friend and former top adviser Valerie Jarrett said that “my heart desires” a President Patrick.

Patrick’s former deputy chief of staff, David Simas, who also served as Obama’s political director in the White House, has encouraged Patrick to seriously consider running in 2020.

Patrick himself is not so sure about a presidential run, however.

“I’m trying to think about how to be helpful, because I care about the country, and I’m a patriot first,” Patrick told Politico. “It’s way, way too soon to be making plans for 2020.”

“So I’ll just leave it at that,” he added.

The radical left is less-than-thrilled at the prospect of another Obama presidency, however.

The Week explains that Patrick, like Representative Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), is just too centrist for words.

The contest for control of the Democratic Party between left and center is continuing apace. The latest battleground is over a handful of minority Democrats being groomed by the centrist establishment to run for office: Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

If the center wants to win over a suspicious left, they can start by clearly explaining their policy orientation, particularly in areas where they might have fallen short by the supposed standards of the modern Democratic Party — which all three of the above candidates have done in various ways. If they want to deepen divisions, they can use cynical accusations of bigotry to try to beat back any leftist challenger.

. . . . Patrick is least trusted of all because he actually works for Bain Capital as a managing director. If he were to run for president, as Obama’s inner circle is apparently urging him to, President Trump would just have to copy-paste Obama’s 2012 ads.

The progressive Slate is even more adamant in its disapproval of Jarrett’s “heart’s desire” to see a President Patrick.

The world of finance! There’s nothing inherently wrong with it. People need banks so they can buy houses and cars, and need to invest their money for retirement and whatnot. Some of my closest friends work in finance, and I enjoy being invited to their beautiful country homes, where I drink their pink lemonade and lounge on their fine divans.

And yet … do I think that any of these friends of mine should run for president in 2020 on the ticket of America’s liberal party during an era of unprecedented wealth inequality and consolidated corporate power? No! And neither should Deval Patrick, the ex–Massachusetts governor who now works for Bain Capital . . .

This is not merely a matter of “optics” or electoral strategy, though. It’s also a matter of principle. Individuals whose main day-in, day-out concern is the well-being of financial service executives and corporate shareholders naturally tend to advocate policy goals friendly to the interests of financial services executives and corporate shareholders. Those interests sometimes, but do not always, overlap with the interests of potential Democratic voters. . . .

The regressive left is still convinced that Obama was as “centrist” as Hillary or even, in one bizarre piece, a “moderate Republican,” and that he let the movement down in any number of ways.  They are going to fight the continuation of his legacy through Patrick just as hard as they supported Bernie over Hillary, Obama’s anointed legacy protector.

The Obama-Jarrett camp doesn’t care and won’t let this “resistance” stand in their way.  They know that if they can manage to finagle Patrick onto the 2020 Democrat ticket, he’ll get their votes, however reluctantly . . . because the alternative will be President Trump’s second term.

For his part, Patrick is already testing his 2020 campaign tactics.  One example is his focus on “nostalgia” as what “Trump is selling.”

The Boston Globe reports:

“The president, I believe, is at risk of diminishing the voice of the presidency because he pops off so often, and so, kind of, carelessly,” Patrick said in the interview. “I think there is a risk both domestically, and internationally for that matter, that we’ll begin to tune him out.

“Nostalgia —that’s what Trump was selling, right? His tag line was on the ‘again.’ You know, saying to communities, whose factories have left, that the solution is to bring that factory back. It may not actually be the most constructive, or even honest, pitch to make.”

If this is any indication, Patrick hasn’t hit the right note just yet, but he has a couple of years to hone his campaign slogan and messaging.