Primary Source: Delaney Headed to Hanover in ‘Wide Open’ Field

  • Valley News political columnist and news editor John Gregg in West Lebanon, N.H., on September 20, 2016. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Geoff Hansen

  • FILE - In this Aug. 10, 2018, file photo, Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., speaks to fairgoers during a visit to the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa. The 2018 midterms are barely history, but the next campaign is already in full swing in Iowa, home to the first caucus of the 2020 Democratic presidential nominating campaign. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File) Charlie Neibergall—AP

Published: 1/2/2019 11:51:36 PM
Modified: 1/2/2019 11:51:46 PM

John Delaney has a mission. The 55-year-old Maryland Democrat, who just wrapped up three terms in the U.S. House, is trying to rise from obscurity and capture his party’s 2020 presidential nomination through intensive campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire.

He visited New Hampshire 12 times in 2018, and recently sent a copy of a favorable George Will column from the Washington Post to more than 90,000 Democratic and independent voters in the Granite State.

When it comes to a bootstrap story, Delaney has a good one. His immigrant grandfathers worked on the docks and a pencil factory in Jersey City, N.J., and he’s the son of a union electrician and stay-at-home mom. Raised in New Jersey, Delaney was able to attend Columbia University with help from IBEW scholarships, and later went to Georgetown’s law school.

He supports a $15 federal minimum wage, free community college and technical training, and a carbon tax to combat global warming, but he also is a pragmatist, shying away from talk of impeaching President Donald Trump.

“Some people running against me in the Democratic primary will run campaigns that are very divisive, and I’m going to run a campaign saying the Democratic Party should move forward and unify the country,” Delaney said in a phone interview on Wednesday.

He favors universal health care, is a strong supporter of the Affordable Care Act, and voted against the Trump tax cuts. He’s also not shy about noting that he and his wife, April, are active Catholics, and also big supporters of immigration reform. He was headed to the south Texas town of Dilley where he and April had sponsored 14 law students and two faculty members to help argue asylum cases.

He’s also got a business background that differs from most of his likely Democratic opponents — Delaney was the CEO of two financial-services firms and has the money to self-finance his campaign through the two key early states. And Delaney says his corporate background is an asset, showing a “proven track record of getting things done.”

“Where most Democrats are is capitalism is the economic model of our country, and what we should be doing is making capitalism more just and inclusive, and not running against capitalism,” he said.

On the international front, Delaney says Trump fails to understand the importance of alliances, and that he would “engage around the world and try to make the world more peaceful and secure using our allies.” He also sees China as the major issue, because it worked hard and made strong investments but also “didn’t play by the rules.”

Delaney will be attending a “meet-and-greet” at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 19, at the Base Camp Cafe in Hanover, hosted by Jim Rubens, the former Republican state senator who backed Trump in 2016 but later withdrew his endorsement.

“Having read his book and checked out his legislative and business record, I slot John Delaney as a pragmatic, get-the-job-done, left centrist. To his credit, John Delaney has founded two NYSE-listed companies and seems particularly adept at cross-partisan coalition building,” Rubens wrote in announcing the gathering. “Left-center is not my politics. But the need for big-picture solutions is now so urgent that all of us (are) called upon to widen our nets, at least to listen.”

With Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., having entered the race, the pace of campaigning is starting to take off. Lebanon City Councilor Karen Liot Hill, a Democrat who also serves as Grafton County treasurer, says there is no obvious frontrunner and that Democrats can continue to draw independents and build on their electoral successes from November, especially if they connect with people struggling to pay their bills and put food on the table.

“I wouldn’t rule anyone out at this point. This is a wide open field,” Liot Hill said. “It’s going to be really important for whoever the nominee is to connect with people and give them a reason to vote that is more than just ‘I’m not Donald Trump.’ ”

Briefly Noted

■State Sen. Martha Hennessey, D-Hanover, state Rep. Susan Almy, D-Lebanon, and retired judge Jean Burling are hosting a fundraiser in Hanover along with the New Hampshire Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. Republican Gov. Chris Sununu in June vetoed legislation that would have repealed the death penalty in New Hampshire, the last New England state where it still is legal. Attendees include novelist Jodi Picoult and activist Sabrina Butler, who spent six years on death row in Mississippi before she was exonerated in the death of her baby son when she was just 17. The fundraiser begins at 7 p.m. on Jan. 15 at the Hopkins Center.

■Sununu is to be inaugurated to a second term today in Concord. With Democrats now in power, his speech will include lots of talk of cooperation and “moving forward in areas where we can find common ground,” according to advance excerpts.

John P. Gregg can be reached at

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