The Road to 2016: Martin O’Malley

The Road to 2016: Martin O’Malley


Quick Facts:

Former two-term Governor of Maryland

Former Mayor of the City of Baltimore

Irish folk band performer

Lieutenant Governor was defeated trying to take over the governorship

Legacy of raising taxes and advancing progressive social policies

Keys to the Party:

Was a two-term governor who advanced liberal social policies including Maryland’s embracing of gay marriage

Keys to the Press:

Was unable to secure the election of his lieutenant governor’s election as governor after his two terms


Governor O’Malley was a prominent governor who advanced the Democratic Party’s progressive agenda in Maryland. Though Maryland suffered in the recession along with the rest of the nation, the State was spared some of the worst fallout because of the growth of the Federal Government and many of the employees living in Maryland.


What Governor O’Malley has in progressive policy credentials, he lacks in presentation. While his soaring rhetoric and speaking style are clear attempts to mimic strong speakers like Barack Obama, they come off sounding very strange and oddly disconcerting. A clear example of this was Governor O’Malley’s failed attempt at launching his national star at the Democratic Convention in 2004. Contrasting his speech with the other relative unknown Barack Obama is a study in effective versus ineffective public speaking. While this episode was over a decade ago, it still shows in Governor O’Malley’s speeches and appearances on national programming.

(If you’re interested, here’s a link to the text of the 2004 speech: … I wouldn’t search for video, it’s pretty embarrassing.)

Governor O’Malley does not bring anything to the Democratic Primary, aside from a governorship, that Hillary Clinton does not already have. It is unlikely that fundraisers outside of Maryland would think Governor O’Malley would be worth the investment.

Odds of Running:


Governor O’Malley is out of office in Maryland and is ambitious. At the moment, the only thing that would hold him back from a run would be finding donors willing to support his long-shot candidacy against Hillary Clinton.

Odds of Winning the Nomination:


O’Malley would not be putting his hat in the ring in order to get the nomination, but rather to increase his stature on the national scale. Likewise, running would make himself relevant for the inevitable race to fill the senate seat of Barbara Mikulski when she decides not to run again. This Senate race will likely come down to Governor O’Malley running against Representative Chris Van Hollen. Van Hollen, who has increased his standing in the House under the protection of Nancy Pelosi and Stenny Hoyer, would be seen as the son the Party is grooming for the seat. Nevertheless, O’Malley hopes that having a national stature could revitalize his image and make him popular enough to make his play for the Senate. If he became a Senator, he would certainly raise his Presidential qualifications in future elections.

Barbara Mikulski official portrait c. 2011.jpgBarbara Mikulski

Odds of a Cabinet Position:


While Governor O’Malley was not a popular governor in Maryland, he played sufficiently well from a socially liberal perspective to show that he can enforce the Party’s platform. While Governor O’Malley may have his sights set on the Vice Presidency, there is very little help O’Malley can bring to a Hillary Clinton ticket. However, in the event the Party insiders would prefer O’Malley not run for the inevitably open Maryland Senate seat, they may push for him to either take a position in Party leadership or move him into a cabinet post. However, this may also be over-estimating O’Malley’s threat at the Senate seat or worth to the Party.

Bottom Line:

Governor O’Malley is an ambitious man looking for his next opening. Hinting at a Presidential run or making a brief attempt at a run may be enough, in his mind, to keep him relevant. There is no real downside to his making the attempt.

GovMatt’s Opinion: Governor O’Malley thinks he has far more skill than he actually has. He has made up for his lacking in skill with an unprecedented ambition. I didn’t support him as Governor of Maryland and there is no chance that he can become President.

Matt McDaniel

Attorney and Political Commentator

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2 Responses

  1. February 11, 2015

    […] Larry Hogan. Mr. O’Malley is also considering a run for the White House (GovMatt coverage here). This is likely cover for his attempting to raise his national profile for his inevitable Senate […]

  2. March 2, 2015

    […] Senator Barbara Mikulski is not running for re-election as Senator from Maryland. This story has been circulating around Maryland for quite some time. See previous commentary. […]

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