O’Malley: Call me Mr. President
Martin O’Malley is running for president.
No, the governor hasn’t made any announcement and probably won’t for another four or five years. But the good-looking Irish lad, who was born in Washington, appears to be on the path to national politics.
O’Malley was one of the few survivors of the Democratic Massacre of 2010, winning re-election by nearly 14 points last week and maintaining his grip on Annapolis for another four years, despite a nationally toxic environment for liberals and a worthy opponent – former Republican Gov. Bob Ehrlich.
But O’Malley pulled it off. After outspending Ehrlich by several million dollars and launching one of the nastiest attack ad campaigns in recent memory, which went so far as to paint Ehrlich as a lobbyist linked to the BP oil spill, O’Malley delivered Ehrlich his second consecutive defeat in state politics, likely ending the latter’s career in elected office.
Yet as questions arise over O’Malley’s future ambitions after his second term, he will no doubt sputter the typical non-denial denial until one fateful day, likely in February or March 2015, when he will speak before a crowd in Baltimore, flanked by his attractive wife and four children, and tell the country what locals have long predicted. His hair will likely be grayer and the lines in his face deeper, but the Kennedy-esque comparisons will no doubt surge as a tingle rushes up the legs of women and gay men everywhere – and just wait until they find out he has an affinity for muscle shirts and fronts his own band.
O’Malley is a career politician. And while he has often claimed that his focus has always been on the here and now, his history shows us otherwise. While attending the Catholic University of America, O’Malley went off to campaign for Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart. He then attended the University of Maryland School of Law, then worked for Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D) and in 1988, began dating his future wife, who also happened to be the daughter of the state attorney general (coincidentally, that same year O’Malley was hired as an assistant state’s attorney for Baltimore City). After an unsuccessful bid for the state Senate, he won a spot on the Baltimore City Council, which he held for eight years before being elected mayor of Baltimore, a position he held for another seven years.
In that time, he’s developed a reputation as a rough-and-tumble politician with a tendency to hold grudges. As mayor, he once ranted at reporters that the Baltimore state’s attorney should “get off her ass” and into a courtroom. During his debates with Ehrlich, it was apparent that both men despised each other, but O’Malley looked ready to take it outside. And when asked by reporters the day after the election for a reaction to his double-digit victory, O’Malley said he was fortunate and blessed to “serve such intelligent people” – as if to imply the more than 700,000 who voted for Ehrlich were unintelligent.
It’s hard to say whether O’Malley would win a presidential nomination or the presidency itself, as political winds are about as unpredictable as likely future Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner’s tears. Regardless, as O’Malley begins to garner more national attention and finds elaborate reasons to vacation in Iowa, his agenda will no doubt morph from one catering to a solidly blue state to one a bit more appetizing for middle America.
And that is essentially the curse of career politicians: The anticipation of the next campaign outweighs convictions, and the position one holds becomes more of a stepping stone than a job.
Last week, at about the same time Ehrlich was delivering his somber yet graceful concession speech at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, O’Malley was giving a rowdy victory speech at a swanky museum in Baltimore. As he stood before supporters, flanked by his signature radioactive green-colored campaign signs, O’Malley seemed ready to jump out of his own skin with excitement.
Standing at a lectern, he echoed his slogan from the campaign trail, “Moving Maryland Forward,” as the crowd cheered. But it was hard not to see the flicker in his eyes and imagine him before a different audience, at a convention surrounded by delegates, substituting the word “Maryland” with “America.”
Originally published by The Diamondback.