Rep. John Delaney’s announcement in late July that he would pursue a longshot bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination—forsaking an expected run for governor next year—was largely met with stunned silence by Maryland’s Democratic political establishment.
But Delaney is getting by with more than a little financial help from his friends close to home, as he spends increasing amounts of time wooing voters in Iowa and New Hampshire—where the first delegates to the 2020 Democratic nominating convention will be chosen.
Delaney’s first campaign disclosure report since jumping into the presidential contest showed him relying heavily on contributors from the area in and around Bethesda and Chevy Chase. The report was filed with the Federal Election Commission late Friday, just ahead of the Sunday deadline for campaign disclosure statements covering July 1 through Sept. 30.
Delaney, who is in the middle of a third two-year term representing Maryland’s 6th congressional district, received donations from nearly 260 separate individuals, according to the newly filed FEC disclosure form. About one-third of the individuals live in Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Gaithersburg, Rockville and Potomac, which is Delaney’s hometown.
About 80 percent of the initial donors to Delaney’s presidential bid are residents of the greater Washington area, including D.C. and nearby Virginia and Maryland suburbs. A large majority of these early donors contributed $2,700 each—the maximum amount that a single person can contribute per election to a federal campaign.
All told, the Delaney presidential campaign reported raising about $573,000 in the third quarter of 2017, including $544,000 from individuals and another $29,000 from political action committees.
The campaign reported it had about $313,000 in the bank as of Sept. 30.
It also assumed $1.243 million in debt, in the form of past loans from Delaney to his campaign committee—although the vast majority of this amount represents loans that Delaney, one of the wealthiest members of Congress, made to his congressional bids in 2012, 2014 and 2016.
Delaney made the most recent loans, totaling about $80,000, this past spring, when he was reported on several occasions to be considering a run for the Democratic nomination for governor.
The list of donors since Delaney announced his presidential intentions includes several fellow Potomac residents with political ambitions of their own.
Total Wine & More co-owner David Trone, who jumped into the 6th District Democratic primary soon after Delaney announced he would not seek re-election, donated $2,700—as did his wife, June Trone.
Another wealthy businessman, David Blair—who is expected to announce a bid for the Democratic nomination for county executive next month—also gave $2,700 to the Delaney campaign, as did retired attorney Bill Conway, who is vying for an at-large seat on the Montgomery County Council.
The Delaney donor list also includes former National Football League Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, a Washington attorney who is a former Bethesda resident. He gave $2,700, as did Washington resident Steve Case, the founder of AOL. David Bradley, owner of The Atlantic—and a close friend of Delaney—also gave $2,700, as did his wife, Katherine Bradley, and two of their children.
Delaney, a centrist Democrat who has boasted of his ability to work across the political aisle, attracted some Republican support. Former Rep. Richard Hanna, a moderate Republican from upstate New York who served with Delaney in the House for two terms, donated $2,700.
So did Victoria “Torie” Clarke, a Chevy Chase resident who was the spokeswoman for the Defense Department in the administration of President George W. Bush. Earlier, she was an aide to President George H.W. Bush and GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
Delaney, so far the only declared candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, reported spending a little less than $300,000 in the period from July through September. As Delaney confronts the need to raise his profile nationally and in early presidential primary states, about 45 percent of this money was focused on social media advertising.
His campaign spent about $66,000 to buy ads on Facebook, Google Apps and Twitter—with Facebook getting the lion’s share of the money. Another $47,500 went to the Lighthouse Group, a Florida-based media production firm.
When his presidential finances are merged with what Delaney reported for the first half of 2017—when he was still nominally a candidate for re-election to Congress—his campaign told the FEC that it had raised $759,000 so far during the 2017-2018 election cycle, and had spent a little more than $583,000 during the same period.
President Donald Trump, who won on the Republican ticket, has signaled that he intends to run for a second term.