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John Delaney says he’s dropping out of presidential race

Rep. John Delaney speaks at the Brown & Black Forum in Des Moines on Jan. 20.
Rep. John Delaney speaks at the Brown & Black Forum in Des Moines on Jan. 20. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
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John Delaney, a businessman and former Maryland congressman who launched a bid for the presidency nearly three years ago, has dropped out of the race, saying in a statement that he doesn’t want to take support away from other moderate candidates in Monday’s Iowa caucuses.

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Delaney announced he was running for the Democratic nomination in July 2017, some six months after President Trump took office and more than a year before most of his rivals would throw their own hats into the ring. The first Democrat to declare his candidacy for 2020, Delaney pitched himself as a “progressive businessman” who could help bridge partisan divides.

“The American people are far greater than the sum of our political parties,” Delaney wrote in a 2017 op-ed for The Washington Post explaining why he was running. “It is time for us to rise above our broken politics and renew the spirit that enabled us to achieve the seemingly impossible.”

As others entered the race, however, Delaney quickly became a centrist foil for some of his far more progressive opponents. He pushed back most strongly on Medicare-for-all, calling Sen. Bernie Sanders’s legislation “bad policy for the country and bad politics for the Democratic Party.” Instead, Delaney favored an alternative that would allow private insurance to remain.

A multimillionaire, Delaney also criticized a proposed wealth tax from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) as impractical. His general characterization of Warren’s plans as “impossible promises” prompted a memorable moment on a primary debate stage last July, when Warren blasted Delaney in return: “You know, I don’t understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really can’t do and shouldn’t fight for.”

Despite spending longer on the campaign trail — and in Iowa — than any of his opponents, Delaney never managed to gain much traction, consistently polling at or near 1 percent in a crowded Democratic field. He failed to qualify for any of the primary debates beyond last summer.