If the Democratic Party is searching for a progressive, populist alternative to Hillary Clinton, it may not have to draft Sen. Elizabeth Warren; Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland, is energized and ready to run. As governor of Maryland, O’Malley accomplished nearly every liberal agenda item — increased clean energy use, abolishment of the death penalty, protection of the Chesapeake Bay, same-sex marriage through referendum, a state version of the DREAM Act and gun control.
O’Malley will not only run on these accomplishments but on a populist economic platform, one which resulted in Maryland having the highest median income in the nation and being named the top state for innovation and entrepreneurship. This platform focuses on education and social services, equal pay for equal work and limits on corporations and banks. O’Malley has recently floated the idea of returning Wall Street regulations not just to Frank-Dodd levels, but Glass-Steagall oversight. While he will not run into any opposition to this economic platform or his economic track record in Maryland in the primaries, if he manages to win the nomination, Maryland’s high level of taxation and stagnant job growth at the beginning of the recession — during O’Malley’s first term — will be an issue for the former governor.
O’Malley’s road to the nomination will not be simple; just this week he finally cracked double-digits in polls, but still trails Clinton by 40 to 50 points. O’Malley’s best shot will require him being the sole progressive populist alternative to Clinton. Thus, O’Malley has to hope that Warren follows through on her statements and does not run, and he needs to make sure he distinguishes himself from Sen. Bernie Sanders. For the latter, it appears O’Malley will seek to cull the younger liberal vote, something with which his youth will help. He held a March 19 fundraiser and concert for those under 35 at the Josephine Butler Parks Center in Washington, D.C. His band, O’Malley’s March, played a mix of Irish rock classics and patriotic American songs. At the event, he continued the message he has been stumping around the nation: on his record in Maryland, on populist economics and on a need to address climate change — something which will play well with the younger generation.
Expect O’Malley to make a decision on his candidacy by the end of April, in an attempt to be the first alternative to Clinton. According to those close to the former governor, it appears likely that a decision will be made to run — but Democrats will have to wait one more month before officially knowing if there will be a progressive alternative to Clinton.
March 27, 2015.