In the whirlwind mania leading up to the Super Bowl last week, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, appearing on a CBS morning show from New Orleans, was asked not only about the Baltimore Ravens’ prospects of winning the big trophy, but also about his own prospects of taking a run at the presidency.
Grinning from ear-to-ear but attempting poorly to be coy, O’Malley downplayed his intentions of running for president in 2016. “2016 is a long way away,” he said. Why then is the fundraising committee he set up after the 2012 election, aptly named the “O’Say Can U See” PAC?
See what—Beyonce lip synching the “The Star Spangled Banner” at your inaugural? Moving in to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? As they say on the street, “Stevie Wonder can see” that the Maryland governor has his eyes on the prize.
“Oh, everybody knows he’s running for president,” said Rodamays Cabrera, a Prince George’s County political activist. “And, he’s using Clinton’s playbook.”
Former President Bill Clinton, that is; not the former secretary of state, Hillary, who’ll be the 2016 Democratic nominee for president if she so desires. In fact, during the same CBS interview, O’Malley heaped a crab-pot full of praise on the “impressive” Miz Hillary.
Meanwhile, back in the Inner Harbor, it can only be a good thing for the state of Maryland’s future to have the world watching the Free State champions and contenders being elevated on the playing and political fields.
“Maryland could join that elite club of California, New York and Massachusetts,” as the states leading the national Democratic Party’s agenda, Cabrera said. “It would become a major center of Democratic politics and O’Malley running for president codifies that.”
Forward, indeed. The “O’Say Can You See” PAC’s website reads: “O’Malley is expected to use the PAC to continue building his exposure on the national stage as he weighs a move beyond Maryland.” Further, it notes that his tenure as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, which facilitated travel and television appearances, ended in December. Much like Bill Clinton’s when he was Arkansas governor and DGA chair.
“O’Malley is seen as a bridge between the old and the new, and what it means to be a Democrat post-Obama,” Cabrera said. O’Malley “will help define that.”
Just look at the progressive issues O’Malley has pushed in Maryland. He rushed to beat New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a leading 2016 presidential prospect, to the punch by getting a gay marriage bill through the legislature before Cuomo did. His PAC supported passage of the Maryland DREAM Act, providing in-state tuition to immigrant children. He’s called for stricter gun control legislation, repealing the death penalty and exploring wind power.
Imagine for a moment, Cabrera suggested, an O’Malley presidency or vice presidency, the latter of which would be more likely. Imagine Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) moving up in the Senate leadership, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) retaining his leadership role in the House, and given the state’s growing majority-minority population, the 2014 prospect of a Black governor in either Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (D) or Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D).
“Maryland could have a Black governor and he could take the credit,” Cabrera said of O’Malley, adding that the governor was instrumental in securing for Rawlings-Blake a leadership post at the DNC’s Washington headquarters recently.
Remember, O’Malley raised his national profile as a nightly fixture on cable television during the last campaign serving as a staunch surrogate for President Obama’s reelection and liberal Democratic policies.
However, like Bill Clinton and Democratic Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, another possible presidential contender in 2016, O’Malley has set about trying to establish himself as a fiscal steward, a good government and a results-oriented chief executive. Sort of a quasi-liberal, quasi-conservative-from-a-mid-Atlantic-state kind of guy.
In his State of the State address last week, entitled “Better Choices, Better Results,” O’Malley patted himself on the back for bringing Maryland through the recession in better shape than most states, improving education, cutting crime and using “a balanced approach” to taxes and spending cuts.
Now, where have you heard “the balanced approach” before?
Yes, from the Oval Office.