Maryland Governor Martin OMalley speaking at the Chesapeake Executive Council Meeting in 2010. (Wikimedia)
“He’s Handsome, He’s Progressive, He’s a Rocker”, New Republic columnist Alec MacGillis wrote of Maryland Governor and aspiring presidential candidate Martin O’Malley in his article of July 2, 2013. In fact, that was the very title he chose for his story on Maryland’s Governor.
Upon reading this headline, one would get the impression that the future looks bright for the young and ambitious Democrat in his bid to succeed President Obama in the White House. That is of course until you read MacGillis’s subtitle to the article: “And man, would Martin O’Malley make a lousy presidential candidate!”
Not exactly a ringing endorsement coming from the most prominent left-wing magazine in the country. And for O’Malley, whose strategy is to win his party’s nomination by painting himself as the most genuine liberal in the race, that kind of coverage is even more troubling.
Even if we overlook the fact that a Quinnipiac poll taken in January estimates that he has the support of only 1 percent of likely Democratic primary voters, (and I think that is fair considering he is relatively new to the national scene and doesn’t enjoy the same name recognition as his potential rivals – Clinton, Biden, Cuomo etc.), the verdict coming from voters in his own state is even more discouraging…
While the majority of Maryland voters approve of his job as Governor, a whopping 62 percent do not want him to run for President according to a Rasmussen poll taken in early July.
Many political pundits have suggested that O’Malley knows his chances of besting Hillary in 2016 or any of the other candidates in the race for that matter are minimal at best, and that he is really just preparing himself for a run in 2020 or 2024 where he might have a better shot at securing the nomination.
And perhaps this assessment is correct. But it still leaves one question unanswered: Why don’t the people of Maryland want him to run for President?
After all, when any Governor decides to run for President it is taken for granted that voters in his or her home state are enthusiastic about the candidacy of one of their own. This is true regardless of the candidate’s chances of success, and it is equally true that this kind of sentiment does not change with the passing of time.
Could it be that deep down the voters of Maryland know that their Governor will have little appeal to a national audience?
All signs point to yes.
Additionally, it must be noted that Maryland is a very liberal state. It is arguably more liberal than any other state in the country besides Vermont. Therefore Maryland is not a preferred training ground for a candidate with national ambitions.
While the Maryland electorate may celebrate O’Malley’s proudest legislative accomplishments: (legalization of same sex marriage, repeal of the death penalty, tuition breaks for illegal aliens, draconian gun control measures, tax increases, etc.), it is unlikely that the nation at large will be as enthusiastic.
Many pundits may counter this argument by asking: “Didn’t Barack Obama win the White House twice by promoting such policies?”
Well, the answer to that is yes and no…
In 2008, Obama portrayed himself as a centrist and avoided controversial social issues. He also gained considerable support from the media and Americans of all backgrounds because of what he represented: a breath of fresh air, and the fact that he was the first serious African-American contender for the Presidency.
While there is little doubt that President Obama moved further to the left once occupying the Oval Office, he possessed something that Martin O’Malley clearly lacks: charisma and the ability to connect with people who may not agree with his policies.
Not only does Governor O’Malley put most audiences to sleep when talks (actually he lectures); he also comes across as arrogant and self-righteous.
This was most evident during the 2010 Gubernatorial Debate on WJZ-13, when he lambasted his Republican opponent, former Governor Robert Ehrlich for daring to suggest that Baltimore City schools were failing because of his (O’Malley’s) administration’s policies.
Perhaps it would be wise for O’Malley to be realistic when considering his future political ambitions.
Why not wait for U.S Senator Barbara Mikulski to retire and then run for her seat? Or perhaps seek a cabinet position in a future Democratic administration?
If the Governor were to take me up on any of these suggestions, perhaps Maryland could be spared another embarrassment like the one we were subjected to in 2012 when he spoke at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte and made a complete fool out of himself.
Although, whether anyone was actually paying attention is debatable.
Bryan is an award-winning political journalist who has extensive experience covering Congress and Maryland state government.
His work includes coverage of the election of Donald Trump, the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and attorneys general William Barr and Jeff Sessions-as well as that of the Maryland General Assembly, Gov. Larry Hogan, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bryan has broken stories involving athletic and sexual assault scandals with the Baltimore Post-Examiner.
His original UMBC investigation gained international attention, was featured in People Magazine and he was interviewed by ABC’s “Good Morning America” and local radio stations. Bryan broke subsequent stories documenting UMBC’s omission of a sexual assault on their daily crime log and a federal investigation related to the university’s handling of an alleged sexual assault.