John Delaney: Big on Healthcare, Surprisingly?

This Spring, the Berkeley Public Policy Journal will profile the (many) candidates vying to become the next President of the United States. Starting Tuesday, March 5 – a calendar year before Super Tuesday – BPPJ will feature weekly posts written by Goldman students who are taking a look at who’s running and why. We note that these posts feature author opinions that do not represent BPPJ, the Goldman School of Public Policy, or UC Berkeley.

By Nick Pesta, Sarah Brandon, and Spencer Bowen

John Delaney was the first member of the Democratic Party to announce a 2020 candidacy, kicking off his campaign way back in July 2017. Before announcing, Delaney served as representative for Maryland’s 6th Congressional District, the shape of which has drawn attention from federal officials. Delaney grew up in New Jersey as the son of an electrician, whose labor union (IBEW Local 164) helped fund his undergraduate education. He is the co-founder of two companies and was one of the wealthiest members of Congress during his tenure.

Delaney is known as somewhat of a moderate — a description on which he pushes back, once musing that “people have a hard time labeling me” — but his core issues include some of the big hitters of the current Democratic party. He is an advocate for universal health care (and also recently released a separate plan focused on mental health), proposes funding free Pre-K with a surtax on on high income earners, and supports a federal carbon tax to address emissions pollution.

Delaney was also an early leader on automation policy, founding the Artificial Intelligence caucus while in Congress and prioritizing the issue on the ground in Iowa. His focus on automation-fueled changes to our economy serves as a symbol of his progressive yet seemingly non-partisan campaign. A Delaney Iowa campaign TV spot reads:

Rapid changes are coming to the way we work. And while both parties seem to focus on fighting, I’m focusing on the future

Indeed, the campaign promises that have earned Delaney headlines are more focused on what he refers to as “fixing our broken politics,” including holding a live debate between the President and Congress four times per year on national television, than his substantive policy proposals. In a crowded field, Delaney seems to be making an effort to “focus on the future” (his campaign slogan) and stand out by focusing on bipartisanship rather than divisive rhetoric.

Even so, Delaney would need to deliver an astronomical comeback to win the Democratic nomination—recent polls show him polling at barely 1 percent.


Nick Pesta, Sarah Brandon, and Spencer Bowen are Master of Public Policy candidates at the Goldman School of Public Policy and  Editors of the Berkeley Public Policy Journal.

This article is an opinion piece, and the opinions expressed represent the author alone. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of the Berkeley Public Policy Journal, the Goldman School of Public Policy, or UC Berkeley.