DES MOINES, Iowa — John Delaney ran one of the longest presidential campaigns in U.S. history, but it’s over now.
Delaney dropped out of the Democratic race Friday, just three days before the Iowa caucuses, ending a 2 1/2-year marathon that has spanned almost the entirety of the Trump presidency.
Delaney announced his candidacy July 28, 2017, during his third term as a representative from Maryland, and did not pursue reelection in 2018, the better to focus on his quest for the White House. By the time other Democrats began flooding Iowa, he had already visited every county — the theory being that a little-known congressman could become a presidential nominee if he barnstormed the early primary states before anyone else was around to draw voters’ attention.
“I think I’m the right person for the job, but not enough people knew who I was or still know who I am,” Delaney said in August 2018. “The way to solve that problem, it seems to me, is to get in early and just work harder than everyone else.”
On Friday, he acknowledged that his years of campaigning hadn’t been enough. His spokeswoman said internal polling had shown he would not meet the threshold of 15% support needed for viability in the caucuses but that he could pull just enough support to keep other moderate candidates below the threshold, which he did not want to do.
“It has been a privilege to campaign for the Democratic nomination for president, but it is clear that God has a different purpose for me at this moment in time,” Delaney said.
Delaney proposed automatically enrolling every American in a government-run health care plan but offering a credit to people who wanted to forfeit that benefit and buy their own insurance instead. He cast it as a sort of compromise measure: a way to guarantee universal coverage without eliminating private insurance.
Before he was elected to the House in 2012, Delaney founded two financial companies and was, at one point, the youngest chief executive on the New York Stock Exchange. Those companies made him one of the wealthiest members of Congress, with an estimated net worth of more than $90 million. He spent millions of that money on his own campaign, which struggled to attract donors.