For a couple hours there on Monday, it looked like Democrats might really not have any race at all for their nomination. Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest-serving woman in Congressional history, announced she will be retiring after her current term that ends in 2017. That move ignited speculation that Martin O’Malley, the former Maryland Governor, could use the opportunity as an exit strategy from his current planned presidential run. Defeating Hillary Clinton, even one-on-one, will be a mighty challenge, and being a U.S. Senator is an awfully nice consolation prize to any situation. However, later that day O’Malley released a statement saying he would not run for the Maryland Senate seat.
The news cycle seemed to reward his decision, as a damaging story about revelations that Clinton didn’t use a government email while at the State Department set the political world aflutter later Monday. There’s no widespread panic among Democrats as to how much it could hurt the front-runner, but it will give ammunition to those activists and donors who argue for a more competitive primary to better prepare the eventual nominee. Once it soon becomes clear that O’Malley is likely the only serious alternative to Clinton that will get in the race anytime soon, he should start to benefit considerably from that. Though it should be noted – as I’ve argued before – that had O’Malley been barnstorming Iowa and New Hampshire all during January and February, he’d already be there. It appears that he’ll announce in April, the same time Clinton likely will.
O’Malley appears to still have his eyes set on that task of challenging Clinton, who he seemed to call out in a major speech in South Carolina this past weekend. In his speech he said, “Triangulation is not a strategy that will move America forward. History celebrates Profiles in Courage not Profiles in Convenience.” There’s no other politicians more closely associated with “triangulation” than the Clintons, so it seems clear as to what he was hinting at. However, that was but one minor aside in the speech that the press enjoyed picking up.
Most of O’Malley’s speech focused on the American Dream, how it’s been degraded, and how we can bring it back. He often noted how America has come back after just “hanging by a thread,” and related the improvements that the city of Baltimore and the state of Maryland took under his governance. He also had a couple pretty good lines, including “We can invent the drive-less car, but we can’t create a job that feeds a family, or can send our children to college?” and “The enduring symbol of the American Dream – the enduring symbol of the land of opportunity – is not the barbed wire fence, it is the Statue of Liberty!”
O’Malley travels to New Hampshire this weekend, and then will be here in Iowa on the 20th.
by Pat Rynard
Photo by Greg Hauenstein. See more of his work at greghauenstein.com