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Eye on Annapolis

The Daily Record's Maryland state government blog

Delaney to run for president, not Md. governor

Rep. John Delaney said Friday he will neither seek re-election in 2018 nor run for governor, contrary to the speculation of many Democrats. Instead, the three-term congressman said he will run for president in 2020. delaney-300x211

Delaney made his announcement simultaneously in an op-ed in the Washington Post and an emailed statement to the press.

“The current Administration is making us less prosperous and less secure, the healthcare debacle being the most recent example of their brand of destructive partisanship,” Delaney said in his statement. “I’m running to bring a new approach to governing and economic policy that addresses our nation’s opportunities and challenges and builds a future where the middle class can grow and succeed. My candidacy is about putting our future first, which involves responding to the rapid changes occurring in the world, strengthening our economy, and building a new social contract that widens the doors of opportunity, makes people more secure, and ensures no one is left behind.”

Delaney, in his statement, said Democrats won’t win “by just attacking Trump, we’ll win as a party – and as a nation – when we focus on the facts and take on the tough issues that confront us, beginning with mastering the challenge of continued and accelerated innovation. If we fail to put partisanship aside and address the significant economic opportunities and challenges we face, we will lose a generation to market forces and change, just like we did when our leaders failed to respond to the dislocation caused by globalization.”

A truck sent by Maryland Rep. John Delaney, a Democrat, carries a sign by the Maryland State House on Wednesday, March 23, 2016 in Annapolis The sign asks Republican Gov. Larry Hogan if he will support Donald Trump if the billionaire wins the Republican presidential nomination. Hogan has declined to say whether he would support Trump, if he wins the GOP nomination. (AP Photo/Brian Witte)

A truck sent by Maryland Rep. John Delaney, a Democrat, carries a sign by the Maryland State House on Wednesday, March 23, 2016 in Annapolis The sign asks Republican Gov. Larry Hogan if he will support Donald Trump if the billionaire wins the Republican presidential nomination. Hogan has declined to say whether he would support Trump, if he wins the GOP nomination. (AP Photo/Brian Witte)

In 2016, Delaney paid for a mobile billboard to drive around the State House in an effort to pressure Gov. Larry Hogan to announce whether he would endorse Donald Trump, who was then a candidate for president.

Delaney’s early entry gives him an opportunity to overcome a key challenge in running a national campaign from a relatively small state such as Maryland — name recognition.

Former Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley ran into similar problems during his unsuccessful 2016 campaign, with many national polls showing him to be a virtual unknown.

But Delaney’s fortune, he founded two companies — HealthCare Financial Partners and  CapitalSource, an investment firm — will prove key, said Mileah Kromer,  a political science professor at Goucher College and director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center.

“Delaney has the personal wealth and funding that will sustain him during the early part of the campaign,” Kromer said.

In the meantime, the pollster said, she expects Delaney will spend time traveling the country in support of other Democratic candidates in an effort to party-build and raise his own visibility.

Delaney has long been considered by many Democrats as a possible standard-bearer for the party as it seeks to unseat first-term Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.

Seven Democratic candidates have officially announced their intentions to run or have formally filed their candidacy, including Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III; perennial candidate Ralph Jaffe; former NAACP CEO Ben Jealous; Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr.; Alec Ross, a technology policy expert and senior fellow at Johns Hopkins University; and Jim Shea, the former chairman of Venable LLC.

Delaney said he would make an announcement in June and then delayed that until July. But in the meantime he was sending signals that he was not eyeing the governor’s mansion.

Delaney had not opened a state campaign account or raised money for a state race — his federal campaign war chest could not be used for a campaign for governor. He also was not making public appearances in other areas of Maryland and did not attend the annual Tawes Crab and Clam Bake in Crisfield — a must-attend for many who are considering statewide office.

Kromer said Delaney bowing out of the governor’s race creates a void for a centrist candidate to challenge Hogan.

“Will we see anybody try and step into that ideological space?” Kromer said.

The decision not to run will also increase the pace at which candidates jockey for his congressional seat.

In May, rumors that Delaney was considering a national run began to surface.

Chris Matthews, host of the MSNBC show, “Hardball,” said Delaney was preparing to open up an office in Iowa — typically a signal that one is exploring a run for president.

“John Delaney, the congressman from Maryland, he’s opening an office in Iowa,” Matthews said. “I mean, there are some guys running already.”

The TV show host’s comments came days after his wife, Kathleen, who is chair of the Maryland Democratic Party, mentioned a Delaney presidential bid in an email about who attended the Washington County Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner.

“John Delaney showed up unexpectedly because the House had an early recess. In the audience were Bill Frick, Roger Manno, both candidates for CD-6, if John goes for Governor or President.” Matthews wrote in the email obtained by The Daily Record.

But Will McDonald, a spokesman for Delaney’s campaign,at the time rejected those claims.

“Congressman Delaney does not have an office in Iowa or any other place other than Maryland and Washington, D.C.,” McDonald said in an email.


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