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The first commercial for a 2020 presidential candidate has aired in Iowa


Maryland Congressman John Delaney. — illustration by Jordan Sellegren

It’s still two years until caucus night in Iowa determines the frontrunners in the 2020 presidential election, but the first campaign commercial has already aired in the state. “Dirty Word,” a commercial for a largely unknown Democratic congressman with presidential ambitions, John Delaney, ran on local NBC affiliates during the Super Bowl, and will continue to air this month, according to the Delaney campaign.

The conceit of the commercial is that “bipartisanship” is a dirty word in Washington D.C., but Delaney is brave enough to not just be in favor of bipartisanship, but actually use the word while he’s on the campaign trail in Iowa.

Delaney isn’t only the first person to run a commercial in the 2020 election cycle, he’s the first person to file the paperwork with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) officially declaring his candidacy. According to Smart Politics, Delaney’s Aug. 1 FEC filing set a new record: “Announcing his campaign 1,194 days prior to Election Day, the three-term Maryland U.S. Representative shattered the mark for the earliest bid in the modern primary era by a non-fringe candidate.”

Bipartisanship was also the central theme of the July 28 Washington Post op-ed in which Delaney announced his intention to run for president. “Our government is hamstrung by excessive partisanship,” Delaney wrote.

Delaney is not the only Maryland Democrat eyeing the 2020 Iowa Caucuses. According to Politico, Martin O’Malley’s leadership PAC was conducting polls in Iowa in March. O’Malley, a former Maryland governor, was a candidate in 2016, but dropped out after failing to get even one percent of the vote in Iowa Caucuses. The polls matched O’Malley against eight potential candidates for the Democratic nomination for president. O’Malley finished on top among the candidates, as the choice of 18 percent of respondents. But at 32 percent,“Not Sure,” was the clear favorite among Iowans.

The names in O’Malley’s poll were among the most common mentioned as potential 2020 candidates, from California Sen. Kamala Harris to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. Delaney’s name was not included in the poll.

A second Delaney commercial is set to start airing on stations in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids this week. Buzzfeed reports that the Delaney campaign is spending $1 million on the two commercials.


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