Patrick Presidential Buzz, Slow-Moving Statehouse, Voter Registration In Court: Beacon Hill In 5

Mar 12, 2018

Since President John F. Kennedy, Massachusetts politicians have a poor record when running for the White House. But can two-term Governor Deval Patrick reverse the trend? Patrick recently told radio station KCUR a 2020 presidential bid was on his "radar screen."

Matt Murphy, a reporter with the State House News Service, said Patrick has considered campaigns for the White House before.

Matt Murphy, State House News Service: I think what was interesting about these comments, in particular, was it's probably the most forceful that Patrick has ever been in expressing that he may actually be interested in this. His name is often been bandied about. There been the stories about Obama confidants urging him to run, urging him to think about it. But he is always taking that position the many politicians do, and never completely slamming the door, just leaving it slightly ajar. For him to come out and say that he is actively working through this, thinking about it and considering whether or not he might be one of the best people in the Democratic party to step forward in 2020, I think, is an advancement of where people might have thought he was sitting in the 2020 field.

Sam Hudzik, NEPR: And, of course, Massachusetts politicians from John Kerry to Mitt Romney to Michael Dukakis, among others, all failed in their bids for the White House. For 2020, the state could have two potential candidates -- Patrick, as well as Senator Elizabeth Warren. Do you see that happening?

Patrick, Warren, there's always that that wild-card that people like to take a look at Congressman Seth Moulton and wonder if he might be thinking about it. The path for the former Governor Patrick is an interesting one. I mean, a liberal from Massachusetts, a former governor. It's unclear that's exactly where of the party wants to go in 2020. After watching President Trump win, there was a lot of talk about how the Democratic Party needs to reconnect with Rust Belt states like Ohio and Pennsylvania. I don't know that Governor Patrick fits that billing.

But as Governor [Charlie] Baker said the last week when he was asked about this, Governor Patrick is "one heck of a campaigner," the governor said. And I think that remains true. He can be a charismatic person on the stump. He does have still a loyal following here in Massachusetts, and I think liberals and Democrats around the country still remember him as governor, when he had a fairly large national profile. It's going to be crowded field though, so I think it's very difficult to predict at this point who would emerge from that.

Let's get to Beacon Hill now. Last week the snow storm slowed much of the action in the statehouse. What's going on this week?

Well, this week, budget hearings are resuming. It's been a relatively slow start to the 2018 legislating season after what was a pretty slow and uneventful 2017. But things are going to pick up. The House [is] on track for its budget debate in April. They are continuing this week with their hearings, as I said, and there are many major things on their agenda that they really need to get the ball rolling.

And we did hear last week after the death of former Representative Peter Kocot, who was spearheading the House's efforts to do health care reform, the House is trusting that duty now to Representative Jeff Roy of Franklin and House Majority Leader Ron Mariano is going to lead the floor debate for them. So they're trying to put the pieces in place to try and get their agenda back on track.

Let's wrap up on voter registration. Last week, Massachusetts' high court heard arguments in a case about the requirement that voters register at least 20 days before an election. Some say that's an unconstitutional requirement and they want same-day voter registration. What's the next step in all this?

You start to get the sense that maybe people want to wait and see what exactly the court does. There is a push to do same-day voter registration. There's also a push among groups like Common Cause and some election access advocates on Beacon Hill for automatic voter registration, which would have people automatically registered -- if they are eligible to vote -- when they have transactions or have a point of contact with the government, either the Registry of Motor Vehicles or through MassHealth. So there are those two proposals and then this court case.

I think you might see, if the court does strike down the 20-day registration deadline, the legislature could have to deal with that. And then you could see some of these other proposals -- if there is support and an appetite to do them -- kind of wrapped into one big solution. So I think it's a little bit of a wait-and-see right now.

Beacon Hill in 5 -- our weekly check-in at the State House -- is now a podcast. You can subscribe to it wherever you get your podcasts.