He’s back. And he’s been back. And back and back and back.
Since June 28, 2017 — 1,224 days before election day — former Rep. John Delaney has been campaigning for president. He’s been in Iowa, the site of the first contest of the 2020 election, 24 times. He’s done 250 campaign events and already visited all of Iowa’s 99 counties. All that with the election still 20 months away.
The Maryland Democrat — who hardly registers in polls in Iowa or New Hampshire, where he has made 14 campaign trips — gives new meaning to the notion of the loneliness of the long-distance runner. But he also is a symbol of a presidential-campaign system that has spiraled out of control, a nearly permanent campaign that stretches ever longer in its effort to appeal to an electorate that seems ever more cynical of politics and ever more impatient with the totems of modern campaigning.
“We don’t have nomination decisions made in the smoke-filled room anymore,” said Geoffrey Cowan, USC professor and the author of a book on Theodore Roosevelt’s 1912 White House campaign, widely regarded as responsible for the beginning of presidential primaries. “In that world you didn’t have to raise money and the bosses made the decisions. But now people have to build their constituencies among donors and volunteers.”