Deval Patrick Cancels Morehouse Event After 2 People Show Up, Cements His Underdog Status

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Written by Dana Sanchez
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Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick canceled a last-minute event at Morehouse after 2 people showed up. He’s the underdog in the 2020 presidential race. Patrick speaks during a fundraiser for the Nevada Democratic Party, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Deval Patrick, the latest candidate to announce he’s running for president in 2020, canceled a last-minute speaking event Wednesday night at Atlanta’s Morehouse College after two people showed up.

A former two-term governor of Massachusetts, Patrick announced on Nov. 14 that he is seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. He didn’t qualify to be on stage Wednesday night with 10 presidential candidates at the fifth Democratic primary debate in Atlanta. However, he does qualify for the New Hampshire primary in early February.

The Morehouse event was planned on very short notice, event organizer Julian Hemmings told CNN. Patrick, 63, was invited to speak there on Tuesday. Hemmings is president and founder of New Deal Democrats at Morehouse — a student-built organization with members from multiple universities who work for social and economic justice.

No one was in the audience at the Morehouse event until five minutes before it was due to start, CNN reported. Then two female students arrived who told CNN that event organizers stopped them as they were passing by in the hallway and asked them to attend.

When Patrick arrived and heard that two people were in the audience, he decided to cancel the event, according to Hemmings.

Patrick was scheduled to meet with students and the editorial boards of local student newspapers at 7:45 p.m. — just 75 minutes before the nationally televised Democratic debate began less than four miles away at Tyler Perry Studios, Boston.com reported.

The New Deal Democrats have hosted other Democratic presidential candidates this election cycle including Mayor Pete Buttigeg on Monday and Sen. Kamala Harris in March. Sen. Bernie Sanders is scheduled to visit Thursday, Hemmings said.

“It was an honor and pleasure that (Patrick) wanted to speak with student journalists and New Deal Democrats,” Hemmings said. “We hope that we could do this again.”

Patrick questioned the overall value of the candidates’ debate format while talking to reporters at the “First in the West” dinner in Las Vegas, according to ABC11. “I’m not sure it’s something you want to aspire to because the format is just really, really hard as a means to communicate with the public.”

The no-show at Morehouse College is the latest in a string of early blows to Patrick’s primary campaign, Newsweek reported.

It also makes Patrick an underdog.

“His late announcement (last) week caught even some of his closest political confidants off guard,” LA Times reported. “But Patrick has long been nostalgic about his underdog status when he entered the 2006 gubernatorial primary in Massachusetts as a relative unknown, facing off against the state’s sitting attorney general.”

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On social media, some people said Patrick missed an opportunity. Instead of canceling at the HBCU, he should have spent a half-hour talking with the two people who showed up “and have that be the story.”

“Imagine if instead of saying ‘you’re not worth my time’, he’d sat down with them and had a conversation,” one person tweeted.

Others blasted Patrick’s campaign managers for organizing an event on the same night as the Democratic candidates’ debate.