Former Maryland congressman John K. Delaney was the very first Democrat to enter the 2020 presidential race, back in the summer of 2017. For months, he joked that he had “cleared the field,” as he had Iowa and New Hampshire pretty much to himself.
But once the Democratic field started to grow — and grow and grow and grow — Delaney found it difficult to attract attention.
On Friday morning, about 80 hours before the Iowa caucuses will take place, Delaney bowed to reality and announced that he was departing the race. In a statement, Delaney said he worried that staying in the race would harm other moderate candidates in the Democratic race.
The businessman-turned-congressman, who spent three terms representing Maryland’s 6th District on Capitol Hill, further explained his decision on CNN Friday morning.
“It’s clear to me on Monday, on caucus night, I will not have sufficient support to get to the 15% viability threshold … that is needed to get delegates out of Iowa,” Delaney said during an interview on “New Day.”
Delaney did not endorse another candidate and pledged to support the eventual Democratic nominee. But he did caution that nominating Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders would make “our job so much harder in terms of beating Donald Trump.”
Here is the statement Delaney released Friday morning:
“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. I leave this race with a profound sense of gratitude to the voters who shared with me their hopes and concerns for our magnificent country, in admiration for the other contenders for the nomination and proud of the work we did to change the debate.
“I want to thank my team members, particularly those who loyally stood with me these last few months, our volunteers, supporters and friends for their incredible work, encouragement and support during our campaign. It was a privilege to work with you on this journey, I will be grateful for you until my last days and I look forward to our work ahead. Most importantly, I want to thank my extraordinary wife, April, and my amazing daughters, Summer, Brooke, Lily and Grace, for their love and encouragement. I thank God, every day, for the love and blessing of my family.
“We need to provide workable solutions to the economic issues facing hardworking Americans, create opportunity for young people in all communities, restore a sense of unity and common purpose to our nation, and re-establish the United States as an engaged global leader. I believe our campaign was unique in its consistent focus on these four themes. Our economic, environmental and technological future is dependent upon the choices we make and the actions we take. For too long we have made bad choices and failed to act; we must change course.
“This race was never about me, but about ideas and doing what’s right for our nation. The unique and data-driven ideas that our campaign generated – on how to create a functional universal health care system, price carbon, advance trade, invest in rural America, cure disease, help workers, launch negative emissions technologies, reform education, and expand national service – are now ideas for the party and I will continue to advocate for them in my next chapter. In addition, I encourage the party to sharpen its focus on the growing opportunity inequality that exists in both rural America and struggling urban communities. The concentration of start-ups and investment capital in a small number of areas is troubling and smart public policy is needed to encourage entrepreneurs to start businesses everywhere. Smart public-private partnerships can encourage entrepreneurs to locate in small-town America and struggling inner cities.
“Never bet against the United States of America. This is a remarkable nation full of wonderful and patriotic people. People who love their country, their neighbors and their families. People who work tirelessly, who innovate, and who give of their time and resources. People who care, deeply, about the character and decency of this nation. Because of them, we have every advantage any nation could possibly want to have in 2020, except for one problem: we are a deeply divided nation. The good news is that we can fix that problem, but we have to fix it together. Step one is to beat Donald Trump and restore decency to the Office of the President. In many ways, this is all that matters and I am fully committed to supporting our nominee and fulfilling that mission. Step two is to get our government working for the American people again. Step three is to focus on the future and leave the world better than we found it. The Democratic party must respond to this calling.
“Let’s stop the nonsense of unrealistic and divisive campaign promises and be the party the American people need – a decent, unifying, future-focused and common-sense party. And please don’t listen to the cynics, the naysayers and the dividers; while we have significant challenges and too many Americans are struggling, the world gets better every year and the United States of America has driven much of this progress – let’s keep it that way.
“Onward and upward and God Bless America.”