Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick was in New Jersey Friday and Saturday to stump for Josh Welle’s House campaign.
“He’s putting in people who’ve been on the sidelines, off the sidelines, and into politics at the grass roots,” Patrick said.
“One of the reasons I’m here and one of the reasons they asked me to come is because I can testify from experience that that is a winning approach – and an important and lasting one, having run myself in a race that made no sense to the wise guys and gals and shouldn’t have been won by someone like me, who was a first time candidate and had less than 2% name recognition on a good day when we were bragging, and no organization.”
Welle faces a similarly uphill battle in his race for a seat that Republican Rep. Chris Smith has held since 1981.
The Cook Political Report, a non-partisan race rater, pegs the seat as a safely-Republican one. It’s the only Republican seat in the state to receive such a rating.
Patrick doesn’t believe those ratings reflect reality on the ground in the fourth congressional district.
“We appealed to people’s sense that they had power through engagement in their own civic and political future and doing so in living rooms and cafes and so forth and that’s what Josh has been doing,” Patrick said. “And I think that sense of servant leadership that he brings is so timely right now. People are so hungry for it right now, and I’m sensing that out of the district last night and today.”
But, there’s some question as to whether Patrick’s instincts are on mark in that sense.
Massachusetts Rep. Michael Capuano, who Patrick endorsed earlier this year, lost his primary to Boston Councilor Ayanna Pressley.
Patrick said that endorsement was more personal than political and not a sign that he was misreading the mood of the Democratic base.
“Think I endorsed Mike Capuano because he stepped out from the political establishment and endorsed an unknown outsider against trends when I was running, and I think that’s the least I can do,” Patrick said. “And I appreciate him just as I do Ayanna. They’re both amazing people. But like I said, he took a chance on me when few people would, and I think I was in debt.”