Congressman John Delaney (left) speaks with Leo Kanne, a leader of the local United Food and Commercial Workers Union.
Congressman John Delaney (left) speaks with Leo Kanne, a leader of the local United Food and Commercial Workers Union.

August 16, 2018

A son of an electrician who did construction work to help pay his way through law school, Democratic presidential candidate John Delaney, a Maryland congressman, says his party must bring disaffected working-class voters into a broader coalition — and focus on a message of bipartisanship — to recapture the White House in 2020.

“This is the party the American people are looking for,” Delaney said, adding that, “Democrats have to campaign everywhere.”

The early entrant into what promises to be a crowded field of Democratic aspirants for the presidency, Delaney, 55, completed his 99-county schedule in Iowa with an hour-long stop at the Pizza Ranch in Carroll Sunday afternoon. More than 50 people from Carroll County and the surrounding region attended the question-and-answer session, which also served as a boost to Statehouse candidate Peter Leo, a Manning Democrat running in the House district that includes Carroll and Audubon counties and part of Crawford County.

Delaney, whose staff has posted an Iowa map on the wall prior to his arrival, pointed to Carroll County and noted that voters here selected President Barack Obama in the 2008 general election and President Donald Trump in 2016.

“That’s the kind of shift I want to see go the other way,” Delaney said.

His big pitch: elect people who promise not to divide the nation.

Amid the swirl of identity politics and race to grab a progressive foothold in the Democratic Party Delaney believes there remains a hunger for candidates who pledge to work with Republicans.

“They want to see us get things done,” Delaney said.

The first 100 days in a Delaney presidential administration would be dedicated exclusively to bipartisan legislation, issues like criminal-justice reform and infrastructure, plans that already have Democratic-Republican coalitions in place, the congressman said.

“Some people don’t like the word ‘bipartisanship,’ but if you look at all the great things, like the creation of Social Security, like the the creation of Medicare, it was all done in a bipartisan basis,” Delaney said. “Our government was designed so you gotta do that.”

Delaney proposes a $1 trillion infrastructure plan he’d fund with revenue from international tax reform on American corporations.

Taking a cue from the British system, in which the prime minister regularly takes questions from Parliament, Delaney would regularly hold “question periods” on national television in which he would debate senators and members of Congress on topics of the day.

“I think we need to get back to the truth in this country,” Delaney said. “People come to these debates with two sets of facts.”

Delaney, a entrepreneur and business owner who helped launch two publicly traded companies, said billionaire investor Warren Buffett was on to something with the operating principle of investing only in companies that are so sound an idiot could run them “because one day, one will.” The same logic surely coursed through the Founding Fathers — who Delaney said were clearly worried about a commander in chief like Trump — as they developed the presidency, Delaney said in one of the few references he made to President Donald Trump at the Carroll stop.

“The Founding Fathers designed the government that one day a bad person will run, because one day, one will, so they put in a lot of checks and balances,” Delaney said.

Frank Hermsen, the retired executive director at New Hope Village and an active Democrat, asked Delaney how we would shore up Social Security.

Delaney said he would raise the cap on earnings subject to the Social Security now set at $128,400. Delaney proposes setting a second threshold for those with high incomes after raising the cap.

Connie Bock, 65, of Glidden, said Delaney speaks with civility.

“I’m after civility after all this divisiveness,” Bock said. “I’ve heard some say the Democrats don’t have a platform, that all we are living off is just going up against the rhetoric of the Republicans. I wanted to hear who we are as Democrats, what’s our platform, what do we stand for, what are we going to do, and I felt Mr. Delaney defined that for us. I think he is the candidate that defines who the Democratic Party is.”

Bock said she is not yet committed to a Democratic presidential candidate for 2020.

Carroll County Democratic Party Chairman Tim Tracy said Delaney has developed a detailed plan.

“The refreshing thing is he’s not afraid to talk in specific terms about what he believes needs to be done and how to accomplish it,” Tracy said.

Tracy said the comparatively strong turnout for Delaney in Carroll on a Sunday shows momentum for the party.

“Democrats are mobilized,” Tracy said. “Democrats will turn out this November to vote.”