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Bad bromance: Clash of the blowhards

It was only a matter of time before the burgeoning egos of this state’s Gov. Martin O’Malley and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) began to rub, creating an irritating rash and throbbing with anger. And indeed, that is just what’s happened in recent weeks.

O’Malley and Christie, both 48 years old and predicted to be key leaders in their respective parties in the years ahead — perhaps even as presidential rivals in 2016 — have engaged in an ever-increasing game of political tit for tat that has elevated their profiles and gotten their names mentioned in numerous national publications. The two rough-and-tumble politicians — the fighting Irishman and Jersey Shore belligerent — seem the perfect match for a bar brawl, with one flashing his guns in a muscle shirt while drinking Guinness, and the other donning a bowling shirt and sipping Jim Beam. Instead, however, the two ambitious politicians have opted to take their feud to the airwaves.

Perhaps not surprisingly, O’Malley instigated the ever-cantankerous Christie when he said in an interview that the New Jersey governor “delights in being abusive towards public employees.” Christie lashed back on the Fox Business Network: “I heard that pabulum Gov. O’Malley was spewing down in Maryland,” he bellowed, before implying that O’Malley kisses the rear of every special interest group he wants on his side.

O’Malley has described Christie’s governing style, which often pits him on the defensive in a bulldog-like approach, as a “stand-up routine,” while Christie has scoffed that he welcomes the opportunity to help raise O’Malley’s profile and “get his name in The New York Times any time he wants.”

The two blowhards both seem more infatuated with each other than the states they’ve been elected to govern. And while there may not be any love lost between the two East Coast governors, it’s clear the emerging feud has linked the rising national profile of one to the other.

Calls for Christie to run for the Republican Party’s nomination in 2012 have increased in recent months as the selection of GOP candidates appears more and more dismal. Indeed, Christie has even received the embarrassing endorsement of conservative columnist and Republican sex symbol, Ann Coulter.

And while no one is calling for O’Malley to run in 2012 (Democrats seem set with President Barack Obama as their nominee), all signs point to him running in 2016 after the end of his second term as governor. Moreover, O’Malley’s election as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, a position once held by former President Bill Clinton that increased his national profile while governor of Arkansas, further indicates his intentions for higher office.

And if this perfect storm remains true, an O’Malley-Christie matchup could be a distinct possibility, either with O’Malley running against Christie after a second term as president or at the end of Obama’s second term.

In any event, it seems rare for the governors of two states that hold few connections to get into such a chest-thumping fracas. But then again, there are few governors in this union quite as scrappy as these guys. And for two men who appear bent on a presidential run, a war of words may be a necessary one, not only for name recognition outside of their states, but for partisan support among their parties’ bases.

Indeed, at the National Governors Association’s opening session Saturday in Washington, O’Malley and Christie sat just feet away from each other, with one governor in between them like a referee. And while the seating chart was based on when their respective states entered the union, the placement of these two boisterous politicians and newly christened foes couldn’t have been more appropriate.

Justin Snow is a senior history major. He can be reached at snow at umdbk dot com.

Originally published in The Diamondback.

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