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Deval Patrick joined the crowded 2020 Democratic presidential field less than three months before the Iowa caucuses. The former Massachusetts governor is a close ally of former President Barack Obama and has a liberal record and ties to Wall Street.
Growing up, Patrick recalls sharing a two-bedroom apartment with his mother, sister and grandparents on the south side of Chicago. He was the first in his family to go to college, attending Harvard University for both his undergraduate and law degrees.
After school, he worked as a lawyer for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and was later appointed to be assistant attorney general for civil rights by former President Bill Clinton. Patrick served as Massachusetts’ governor from 2007 to 2015. He then joined a private equity firm co-founded by Sen. Mitt Romney.
Here’s where Patrick stands on some key issues of the 2020 election:
Patrick was an advocate for gun restrictions during his time as Massachusetts governor. After unsuccessfully pushing for gun control legislation in 2009, Patrick advocated for new restrictions following the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012. He proposed expanding background checks for buyers, limiting them to one gun purchase per month and restricting access to high-powered ammunition. In 2014, he signed a sweeping gun measure allowing Massachusetts police to withhold firearm identification cards from people deemed to be a threat to the public. Among other provisions, the law also mandated an online portal to track private gun sales, and strengthened penalties for carrying guns on school grounds.
Despite calling “Medicare for All” a “terrific idea” last year, Patrick has since shifted his position, saying in November that he does not support the program, but instead believes in having a public option in addition to private health care. In 2012, Patrick signed a first-in-the-nation bill to reduce state health care spending. The bill created a commission to monitor growth in costs and enforce targets for spending. It also pushed hospitals and doctors to cut their rates of cost growth by half.
Patrick previously worked as general counsel for the oil company Texaco, raising concerns among some environmental activists. He has expressed concern, through speeches and public appearances, for rising sea levels and carbon emissions. As governor he spoke in favor of ending “all reliance on conventional coal generation” in Massachusetts. In 2008, he signed a bill requiring diesel and home oil sold in the state to consist of a minimum of five percent biofuel. During his governorship he joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a collaboration between nine northeastern states to limit and reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector.
As governor, Patrick increased public school funding and signed a bill in 2010 to increase charter schools in the state’s lowest performing districts. He also pushed for reform aimed at closing achievement gaps between students from different racial and economic backgrounds. Patrick has also proposed free community college. Patrick said he supports reducing student debt, but is not in favor of the wealth tax that Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren says would fund her education plan.
Patrick successfully lobbied for state legislators to vote down a state constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage. His administration also moved to expand Medicaid coverage for gender-reassignment surgery and hormone therapy for transgender individuals. Patrick signed a bill in 2014 that allows police in Massachusetts to disperse anti-abortion protesters blocking entrance into clinics. In the 1990s, he served on the board of directors of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts.
In 2012, Patrick directed the state’s Department of Education to offer in-state tuition to some undocumented immigrants. In response to an influx of unaccompanied minor migrant children in the U.S., Patrick in 2014 proposed housing hundreds of undocumented immigrants at in-state facilities. He also instituted a policy to prevent state police from detaining undocumented immigrants of behalf of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
A bill Patrick signed in 2010 loosened mandatory minimum sentencing for some drug offenses and allowed employers to access criminal records for applicants online. But the bill also barred employers from asking about criminal history on job applications. In 2012, Patrick signed a policy ending parole eligibility for violent offenders after their third strike. At an event in New Hampshire last month, he said “putting the notion of rehabilitation back into the criminal justice system is important.”
Candice Norwood is a former digital politics reporter for the PBS NewsHour.
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