Rep. John Delaney of Maryland said Friday he would seek the Democratic nomination for the presidency in 2020, becoming the first person to announce a challenge to President Donald Trump.
The low-profile centrist is a former banker who founded two publicly traded companies and is worth an estimated $90 million.
Delaney’s best-known legislative accomplishments are bipartisan infrastructure-improvement initiatives, and he has presented himself as a “progressive businessman” who can balance government regulation and social safety-net programs with the needs of a free market.
“My focus is on preparing our country for the future,” Delaney wrote in a Washington Post op-ed announcing his candidacy. “Technological innovation, automation, and globalization are the most powerful forces in the world today … We need to respond to these large-scale opportunities and challenges by thinking about policy from a fresh perspective.”
A video posted on Delaney’s campaign website addressed Trump immediately, deriding him as “not focused on the future” while acknowledging that Democrats wouldn’t win merely by attacking him.
“He’s not doing the things we need to do structurally to make our economy more competitive, to make our country more entrepreneurial, and to position people to succeed in that new economy that we all know is coming,” he said.
Delaney also touted his blue-collar upbringing in New Jersey, his “union electrician” father, and summers spent working construction jobs before becoming a businessman. It’s unclear how Delaney will fare with Democratic primary voters who began leaning further to the left in the 2016 election.
In his op-ed, Delaney called for infrastructure investment, tax reform, and better healthcare and education systems. But he has previously eschewed some of the more popular causes among liberals, such as raising the minimum wage to $15. He was also the only congressional Democrat in Maryland to support the Trans-Pacific Partnership, drawing the ire of local labor unions, according to The Baltimore Sun.
“I’ve made it a priority to be solutions-oriented and have been consistently recognized as one of the most innovative and bipartisan members of Congress,” Delaney wrote in The Post. “I’ve done this by simultaneously celebrating the power of our free-market economy while also insisting that there is a role for government to set goals and rules of the road and take care of those who are left behind.”
Delaney also announced he would neither seek reelection in 2018 for his House seat nor challenge Maryland’s Republican governor, Larry Hogan, as he was widely expected to do.
“No games, no cat-and-mouse, no backup plan at the 11th hour if a focus group goes badly,” he wrote.