Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has decided not to seek the Senate seat being vacated by retiring five-term incumbent Barbara Mikulski.
O’Malley, who was Governor of Maryland for two terms from 2006-2014 left office earlier this year. O’Malley’s replacement, Republican Larry Hogan ran on a platform of undoing many of the anti-business policies that, in the eyes of Republicans, had hurt the State of Maryland. At the outset, the race for governor looked to be a foregone conclusion in favor of O’Malley’s Lieutenant Governor: Anthony Brown. However, an undisciplined and dirty campaign allowed the gap between Brown and Hogan to narrow and for Hogan to come out on top.
Speculation that O’Malley would seek Mikulski’s Senate seat has been high in previous months after his departure from the Governor’s mansion. While O’Malley has been making stops in Iowa and South Carolina with regards to a potential run for the White House in 2016, the conventional wisdom was that this was merely to raise his national profile for funding a Senate campaign in 2016.
However, it looks like Mikulski’s announcement came far sooner than O’Malley was ready for. It seems unlikely that O’Malley, who left office as a fairly unpopular Governor would be able to secure the nomination against Congressional leaders like Chris Van Hollen or Elijah Cummings. If Mikulski had waited four more months before her announcement, O’Malley may have been able to shift his Presidential fundraising apparatus into a Senate bid. However, now, a little over a month out of leaving office, O’Malley has little cash on hand and not nearly the national name recognition to fundraise outside the state.
Mikulski, who did not weigh in on her choice for her successor made one thing clear in announcing her retirement when she did: she did not want Martin O’Malley in her seat. O’Malley is now going to focus on a bid for the “Presidency” that is more likely a bid to get on the ticket or get a cabinet position (or a position in the DNC).
Republicans are still undecided on the open Maryland seat. Perennial challengers exist, but no new names have come forward in anticipation of what will be a major race in the State.