With a Jimmy Carter out-of-nowhere approach, Maryland Rep. John Delaney is quietly raising his profile in Iowa.
The 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful has made 12 trips to the first-in-the-nation state, including a visit to the 2017 Iowa State Fair with his family.
He’s campaigned in 72 of Iowa’s 99 counties.
Delaney’s also spent more than $1 million on television ads in the Cedar Rapids and Des Moines markets. His most recent ad is “A Shared Humanity,” in which he talks about his immigrant grandfather.
He’s also visited New Hampshire, host of the first presidential primary, eight times and has written a book.
Carter was the Georgia governor who crisscrossed Iowa ahead of the 1976 caucuses telling Iowans, “My name is Jimmy Carter, and I’m running for president.” He won with the support of 27 percent of caucusgoers. All told, 17 Democrats sought the nomination that year, but Carter’s Iowa showing gained him press attention and ultimately the Democratic presidential nomination and the presidency.
Delaney largely has been ignored by national media, and his campaign visits to Iowa coffeehouses, cupcake shops and a Pizza Ranch have been low-key.
But a poll by Harrison Hickman, once John Edwards’ pollster, found that more than half — 52 percent — of likely 2020 Democratic caucusgoers recognize his name.
In that poll, Delaney trails former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — both were recognized by 99 percent of the 503 likely Democratic caucusgoers — with Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker at 89 and 65 percent, respectively.
Still, he leads Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamela Harris and Amy Klobuchar, as well as Terry McAuliffe, John Hickenlooper and Julian Castro in name recognition in Iowa.
Delaney, 55, was a businessman before he was elected to the U.S. House in 2013.
He is scheduled to be in Eastern Iowa next month and has added a press secretary to his Iowa operation.
Monica Biddix, who most recently was with Andy McGuire’s campaign in the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, will handle media relations. A North Carolina native, Biddix also managed former state Sen. Mary Jo Wilhem’s successful 2012 campaign in northeast Iowa, worked in the Iowa Legislature and was spokeswoman for the Iowa Democratic Party.