Deval Patrick’s Big Maybe Heard ’Round the Commonwealth

The governor changes his tune on whether he'd consider a run for president.

Deval Patrick

“There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about,” Oscar Wilde famously said, “and that is not being talked about.”

The modern-day political version of this sentiment was expressed less pithily by former Indiana governor Mitch Daniels, speaking to the Weekly Standard in 2010 about a possible Presidential bid:

Newt [Gingrich] told me, look, quit saying you’re not going to do this. If you don’t run, you don’t run. But say you’re leaving the door open, and the national press will pay a lot more attention to your viewpoint.

For seven years, Governor Deval Patrick has refused to play that game. As rumors and speculation about his future swirled ceaselessly, he steadfastly insisted that his foray into elected office was a one-time, eight-year bout of public service. That helped keep him relevant on Beacon Hill, but it didn’t do much for his book sales.

With less than a year of clock to run out on his governorship, Patrick no longer has to worry about Bay Staters’ expectations. So, at a National Governors Association gathering this weekend, where the national political media comes to ask the Will You Run question to a room full of Presidential wannabes, Patrick chose to change his tune. He told Politico that “maybe” he will run for President someday—though not in 2016—and that, contra his previous insistence, “I’d like to have another opportunity to serve.”

Smart move, and smart timing. It should boost his speaker fees, help him raise more for his political action committee, and get him quoted in the media more in his post-governor life. Good for him. Say you’re leaving the door open, just like Newt says, and the world will beat a path to your door.

It might even be true. Who knows? He could run for President some day, but I doubt it. Maybe he’ll run for U.S. Senate, though, if the timing works out right. I suspect Patrick himself hasn’t even really thought much about it. But he’s no dummy. He knows what Oscar Wilde knew. And here we are talking about him.