On Tuesday, John Delaney wrapped up his 20th visit to the state of Iowa.
The Maryland Democrat announced his presidential intentions way back in July 2017—more than three years before the 2020 election. He’s already visited each of Iowa’s 99 counties, spent $1.5 million on television ads in the state, and hired dozens of staffers—all before big-name Democratic contenders such as Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders have even decided whether to run.
“By going around and doing what I’m doing, meeting with thousands and thousands of Iowans,” Delaney told me in an interview this week, “you can distinguish yourself in a crowded field.”
But who, exactly, is he?
Delaney, who represents Maryland’s Sixth Congressional District, which stretches from Appalachia to the Washington suburbs, is often described as a political moderate. In reality, he checks several progressive boxes: He’s a proponent of universal health care (though not a single-payer system), a $15 minimum wage, and the expansion of early-childhood education. Last month, he joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers to propose carbon-tax legislation. “The way I go about getting progressive things done is by finding common ground,” Delaney said.
Through his early efforts in Iowa, Delaney has positioned himself as a unifier, pledging that as president, he would work to resolve America’s increasing political polarization and put forward legislation with support from both parties. Iowa Democrats told me in interviews that they find his approach refreshing—a kind of throwback to the pre-Trump political era—and each one of the dozen activists and party leaders I spoke with this week seemed to genuinely like the guy.