Martin O’Malley (shown at microphone), former Baltimore mayor and Maryland governor, told reporters on Tuesday that he will announce his candidacy for the Democrat Party’s presidential nomination over Memorial Day weekend.
Despite claims that he only recently had been considering the possibility of running against Hillary Clinton and liberal Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, O’Malley has been gearing up for this since August 2013. At a National Governors Association meeting in Milwaukee, he stated then that he was already laying “the framework” for a presidential run.
And so he has. In just the last 18 months, O’Malley has appeared in 23 states, notably in Iowa (where he already has a staff of 11 in place laying that groundwork), New Hampshire, and South Carolina, each conveniently holding early primaries for 2016.
On paper he appears to be a formidable opponent to Clinton, with his long list of progressive achievements. As governor he signed into law a bill that makes certain illegal immigrants eligible for in-state college tuition and another legalizing same-sex "marriage" (even though he calls himself a Roman Catholic). In order to close the state’s $1.7 billion deficit in 2008-2009, rather than cut government spending, he raised income, sales, and gasoline taxes. He also implemented a traffic speed camera enforcement program to raise additional revenues. He presided over the implementation of gun control laws that make it virtually impossible for Maryland residents to obtain a concealed carry permit. He ended the state’s death penalty and raised the minimum wage to $10.10.
He earned an award from Planned Parenthood of Maryland and a 100-percent rating from the Maryland chapter of pro-abortion NARAL.
It also caught the attention of leftist publications such as Esquire magazine, which named him “The Best Young Mayor in Country” in 2002, and Time magazine, which put him into their list of America’s “Top 5 Big City Mayors.”
None of which was new news to Bill Clinton, who wrote to O’Malley while he was still Baltimore’s mayor: “I wouldn’t be surprised if you go all the way [to the White House].” In 2006, the Clintons helped him gain reelection as governor by hosting fundraisers, headlining political rallies, and connecting him with their massive network of Democrat sponsors and contributors. O’Malley won in a walk.
To return the favor, O’Malley endorsed Hillary in 2008, raising at least $500,000 for her campaign for president, defending her on cable news, and even travelling out of state to campaign for her.
O’Malley has at least two problems, however: name recognition and distinctiveness. Current polls show him in the low single digits among likely Democrat voters, while Hillary has an attractiveness rating among the same group of 84 percent. When asked what makes him different from Hillary in ways that will draw some of her supporters to his campaign, he replied:
The thing I believe presents something of value to my country, especially in these times, is my experience as an executive, and as somebody who was able to bring people together in order to get things done.
In other words, nothing whatsoever. Which can only mean that he has other purposes in mind. After all, as one of his supporters noted, O’Malley is “very much like Bill Clinton in being slow and deliberative and calculating in everything he does.”
He could be a sparring partner for Hillary in the primaries, giving her additional airtime and adding interest to a campaign that at present is vacuous. That would work, of course, only if he stayed away from her various and sundry issues, i.e., missing e-mails, Benghazi, her foundation, and her character.
Or he could be waiting for Hillary to stumble, which would put him squarely in contention against Sanders, the aging liberal war horse from Vermont.
Or he could be polishing his political skills and his name recognition for another run in 2020. He’s only 52. In 2020, Hillary will be 73, and Sanders would be 79.
Or he could be a foil in the media’s attempt to make the present campaign look like a real election rather than just a coronation.
In any event, liberal observers will likely welcome the airy, handsome, articulate, far-left political conniver to add spice and flavor to the Democrat Party’s so far lackluster campaign for the White House in 2016.
A graduate of an Ivy League school and a former investment advisor, Bob is a regular contributor to The New American magazine and blogs frequently at www.LightFromTheRight.com, primarily on economics and politics.