A founding member of the Congressional Tea Party Caucus, Bartlett says he’s proud to be a GOP maverick: He opposed No Child Left Behind and the Troubled Asset Relief Program because he thought it was a bailout crafted for Wall Street at Main Street’s expense. “My party is sometimes wrong, and when they’re wrong, I’ll vote against them,” Bartlett said.
His shoulders are a bit stooped, he uses hearing aids and his gait is slow. But Bartlett, a member of the Seventh-day Adventists, showed a nimble mind that impressed Henry Abrahams, 77, after their discussion at the Old Towne Cafe.
“He’s interesting to talk to. Very knowledgeable,” Abrahams said.
Yet Bartlett’s campaign has been erratic about scheduling public appearances and coordinating coverage of them. “The reason they don’t see me is because I spend so much time fundraising,” Bartlett said.
But he is behind Delaney. Bartlett raised about $40,000 in a two-week period this month while Delaney raised more than $251,000, according to Federal Election Commission filings. Overall, Delaney has amassed $3.5 million, including $1.7 million from himself. Bartlett has pulled in almost $1.1 million.
As a newcomer, Delaney, 49, is busy introducing himself to voters. Well before sunup last week, Delaney shook hands with commuters at the Shady Grove Metro station while campaign staff let everyone know that he has the backing of The Washington Post’s editorial page and former president Bill Clinton.
“He’s surging at the right time,” Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler said while handing out Delaney brochures. “Look at this morning, how hard he’s working. People really believe, if you’re going to work for yourself, you’re going to work for them. And that’s certainly the case with John.”
Several commuters stopped to ask Delaney about his views. One was Tom Koval, 27, who lives in Derwood and works for the Department of Homeland Security.
“I gotta be honest — I’m leaning toward Roscoe Bartlett because I think the redistricting was kind of messed up, but I was hoping you can kind of change my mind,” Koval said.
“I do think the redistricting was messed up,” Delaney replied. “But, respectfully, I don’t think that should be the reason to vote for someone. You should vote for someone who’s going to do a better job for you going forward.”
Delaney is not new to politics: He gave more than $100,000 to the Democratic Party and raised more than $800,000 for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s failed 2008 presidential bid. But he has never run for office.
Although as a financier he’s in a line of work that might paint him as an out-of-touch plutocrat, Delaney reminds voters that he grew up in a modest home in Woodbridge, N.J. His mother was a homemaker; his father is still a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Delaney attended Columbia University on a union scholarship and then attended Georgetown’s law school before heading into business. Delaney is also a practicing Roman Catholic. He and his wife, April, have four daughters and live in Potomac.
By the time he reached his mid-40s he had created two highly profitable finance companies and taken them public. When he talks about the need to retool the U.S. economy, he sounds more like a businessman than a politician.
“Look it, I come from the real world where you have to work together to get things done,” Delaney said. “I think a lot people in politics come from a different perspective, where ideology rules and facts don’t really matter.”
He says the United States must become more competitive in a global economy by reforming its educational system, overhauling its immigration policies and laying the foundation for future growth by investing in infrastructure and developing plentiful new sources of clean energy. But he also calls for more public-private partnerships.
“I’m a big believer in the market,” he said. “The private sector creates the jobs. The government levels the playing field and creates the right incentives.”