Less than 24 hours after announcing a final multi-city sprint through Iowa, former Maryland congressman John Delaney exited the race for the Democratic nomination for president Friday morning.
His campaign released a statement saying internal analyses showed Delaney didn’t have enough support in Iowa to continue in the race. The campaign said Delaney decided to withdraw rather than block other moderate candidates from achieving viability in the Iowa caucuses Monday night.
“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 in a statement.
His announcement came just hours after a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal nationwide poll of Democratic primary voters. Delaney came in at less than 1%.
The businessman and former representative for Maryland’s 6th Congressional District was the first candidate to declare his run for the presidency, in July 2017. He made dozens of trips to Iowa and other primary early voting states, but his campaign never caught fire.
Delaney spoke to News4 in Miami a day before the first Democratic primary debate hosted by NBC News in June 2019. Asked how he planned to break through, Delaney replied, "I think I’m going to break through by being very direct with the American people. I’m going to tell them what I believe, what I stand for and what I think doesn’t make sense."
In a field dominated by well-known candidates from the liberal wing of the party, Delaney, 56, called for a moderate approach with “real solutions, not impossible promises,” and dubbed the progressive goal of “Medicare for All” to be “political suicide.”
Campaign finance reports showed Delaney’s campaign was more than $10 million in debt largely because of loans Delaney made to his campaign. At the end of September, months after he had last been on a debate stage, the former lawmaker had just over $548,000 in cash on hand.
Before billionaires Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg entered the presidential race and used their substantial wealth to gain attention, Delaney tried a similar approach. Back in March, he promised to donate $2 to charity for every new donor who donated on his website. Then in October, Delaney dangled “two club-level” World Series tickets, with hotel and airfare included, as a prize for those that donated to his campaign.
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts were frequent targets of Delaney as he warned during the July debate that the “free everything” policy approach would alienate independents and ensure President Donald Trump’s reelection. He compared the two senators to failed Democratic standard-bearers of the past, including George McGovern, Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis.
Delaney renewed that criticism on his way out of the race, saying the true hope for the party lay in moderates like former Vice President Joe Biden and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
“People like Bernie Sanders who are running on throwing the whole U.S. economy out the window and starting from scratch…I just think that makes our job so much harder, in terms of beating Trump," Delaney said Friday morning. "I also think that’s not real governing. That’s not responsible leadership because those things aren’t going to happen.”
Despite the criticisms, Delaney pledged to “campaign incredibly hard” for whoever won the Democratic nomination.