Can Deval Patrick convince voters his work at Bain Capital was a force for good?
As Mitt Romney was solidifying his spot as the front-runner in the 2012 Republican primary, Barack Obama came out with a devastating campaign ad. Romney, an accomplished businessman who cofounded private equity firm Bain Capital in 1984, was running on his ability to resuscitate a struggling economy. But Obama’s team, seizing on the populist mood of the time, flipped the script. In a two-minute ad that ran in multiple states, the Obama campaign described in excruciating detail how Bain Capital would buy a business, saddle it with debt, and then sell it for parts. “They came in and sucked the life out of us,” said a former steel mill worker whose factory went bankrupt shortly after it was acquired by the firm. Another called Romney a “job destroyer.”
One high-profile Obama ally who didn’t join in the Bain bashing was the Massachusetts governor, Deval Patrick. Throughout the campaign, Patrick, who was the campaign cochair, refused to cosign the party’s reelection message, saying Bain “wasn’t a bad company.” Patrick’s stand made some political sense at the time: Bain & Company, after all, is headquartered in Boston. The move also paid off long-term: After leaving government in 2015, Patrick himself got a job at the firm, where he helped launch Bain Capital Double Impact, a fund designed to “help mission-driven companies scale and drive meaningful change.” (Patrick has also worked for other controversial companies, like subprime lender Ameriquest.) Since then, even as the Democratic base drifted to the left, with candidates such as Elizabeth Warren making the case for a wealth tax, Patrick has stood firm in his defense of the private equity company.