Nov 12, 2019

How Deval Patrick's Bain Capital experience could play into 2020

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata

Photo: Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

Private equity soon may get more unwanted attention in the Democratic presidential primary, based on an AP report that former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is seriously considering a last-minute entry.

The big picture: Patrick made his money as a corporate lawyer before running for public office, but has spent the past several years at Bain Capital, leading an impact investing effort.

  • There is unconfirmed speculation that Patrick was awakened in his suburban Boston home last night, by the sounds of champagne corks popping at Elizabeth Warren's campaign headquarters.

Between the lines: Patrick's Bain Capital experience is much different than Mitt Romney's, in terms of both type and tenure. But it might be a difficult distinction for Patrick to persuasively articulate, particularly given Warren's continuing efforts to paint the entire PE industry as engaged in "legalized looting."

  • The risk for private equity is that Patrick becomes Warren's flesh-and-blood foil.
  • On the other hand, it's also possible that Patrick complicates Warren's message, because of his particular fund's focus on positive social impact.
  • Either way, Patrick's run would produce a headache for Bain, both because it would need someone new to manage a relatively-young fund, and because the person who ran PR point during Romney's presidential run is no longer there.

The bottom line: We should know if this is real by Friday, as that's the deadline for candidates to file for New Hampshire's primary.

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