Martin O'Malley

O'Malley's March to the Left?

The former Maryland governor reframes himself.

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I'm not a rebel, but I play one on TV.
This Week

Two strange things have been happening in Martin O'Malley's prospective presidential campaign. The first: He keeps running further to the left. The Maryland Democrat has always been a liberal, but not exactly the populist kind—he's been both my mayor and my governor, and I've come to think of him as a technocrat who likes to tout his trade missions, not a progressive insurgent attacking a trade pact. Now he's not just denouncing the Trans-Pacific Partnership; he's calling for expanded Social Security benefits and a $15-an-hour minimum wage. Last week The New Republic's Danny Vinik declared that O'Malley had moved "not just to the left of Clinton but even to the left of Senator Elizabeth Warren." In the civil war between Rahm Emanuel Democrats and Bill de Blasio Democrats—a conflict that had been playing out mostly on the state and local level, but has now hit Washington in the fight over the TPP—O'Malley has decided his best path forward is to reframe himself as a de Blasio.

The second strange thing: This appears to be working for him. Oh, he's still polling miserably, and the most prominent names saying they'll back him, folks like former Colorado senator Gary Hart and former Miami mayor Manny Diaz, tend to be old O'Malley allies, not major defectors from Camp Clinton. The candidate's chances of pulling an upset remain miniscule. But he's getting far more media attention than those other prospective anti-Clintons, Jim Webb and Bernie Sanders. The press wants a contest for the Democratic nomination, and the press understands that such a contest would most likely take the form of Clinton battling someone to her left. Webb and Sanders make more plausible populists than O'Malley does, but they also sound even less plausible as nominees (though Sanders is actually outpolling O'Malley at the moment). So when the governor starts out-Warrening Warren, he gets attention.

He's still extraordinarily reluctant to criticize Clinton by name. Perhaps that's because he hardly needs to. We've reached the point where he can allude to the frontrunner in the vaguest possible terms (declaring, say, that workers "deserve to know where leaders stand"—a decoder-ring reference to Clinton's dithering on the TPP) and still get headlines saying he's "getting bolder and bolder." (Like I said, the media craves a contest to cover.) Or perhaps, as many of us have been suggesting from the beginning, the governor is ultimately seeking a post in a Hillary Clinton administration and doesn't want to step over the line. Criticizing Clinton from the left might be useful to O'Malley's ambitions. Being frank about who he's assailing, in a way that could come back to haunt him, might not.

NEXT: Loretta Lynch Confirmed as Attorney General Nominee, Faux Civil Rights Groups Hail Lynch's Elevation

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  1. The Democratic field really is pathetic. The GOP has no one to blame bet themselves if they blow this one.

    1. What this country desperately needs is something like a Rand Paul landslide. Not that I necessarily expect that, but something where the Democrats really got bitch-slapped (again) might help to knock down the power of the extreme left for a while. Those in power on the left want power more than they want leftist wins.

      1. Similar to how the socon Santorums of the GOP want power more than they want drug-free heterosexual matrimonial missionary sex for procreation between one man and one woman. And they’re slowly having their asses handed to them.

      2. I think that depends on who the Democratic nominee is. Hillary is not from the extreme left of the party, nor is O’Malley – if it’s one of them, I can see many reacting by thinking the problem is that they didn’t nominate someone left-wing enough (particularly since someone like Paul can undercut them on certain issues leftists like to think they own). If it’s Warren or Sanders, that might be a different story.

        1. Yeah, I was kind of thinking of a far left candidate losing, though the one everyone talks about–Warren–would never get the nomination. Too extreme and too regional. With zilch in the way of experience or demonstrated competence.

  2. You know who else “reframed” himself to achieve political goals…

    1. Daniel Ortega?

    2. Ronald Reagan?

    3. Just about every politician ever?

  3. O’Malley is going full retard, just watch. I’m going to enjoy this.

    1. O’Malley can’t “go” full retard as that is his natural state. He is def. the pol we deserve.

  4. He’s still extraordinarily reluctant to criticize Clinton by name. Perhaps that’s because he hardly needs to.

    No, it’s because the reality is that he’s running to be Hillary’s running mate.

    1. Psst: Read the rest of the paragraph.

      1. Are we now supposed to read articles before making comments? What is this, Canada?

        1. I’m impressed that he made it almost to the end before he rushed to make a comment.

        2. I don’t like your tone when talking aboot Canada, pal!

          1. First, I live in Canada, so I’ll use that tone aboot it!

            Second, I ain’t your pal, buddy!

    2. Or just hanging around waiting for her to be indicted or her campaign implode under an avalanche of corruption and controversy.

  5. I don’t how this guy can imagine he should be the Democrat nominee when his biggest accomplishment seems to be in getting blue MD to elect a GOP governor.

    1. Have you seen the other Democrat contenders? Lack of scandals on a national scale probably seems like an accomplishment to the more moderate Democrat voters.

  6. When it’s Rahm Emmanuel vs. Bill Deblasio, everybody loses.

  7. But he’s getting far more media attention than those other prospective anti-Clintons, Jim Webb and Bernie Sanders.

    Thank Drudge for that. He’s been pushing him as the anti-Hillary for a while.

  8. As a MD resident my whole life I’ve got to say:
    O’Malley can go fuck himself

  9. …but they also sound even less plausible as nominees….

    Why exactly does Webb sound less plausible as a nominee than a guy who was just succeeded by a Republican in Maryland?

    1. Why exactly does Webb sound less plausible as a nominee than a guy who was just succeeded by a Republican in Maryland?

      Well, Webb has his own weaknesses as a politician. But it’s ultimately because O’Malley is a more conventional Democrat than Webb, and thus is a more plausible pick for the party, not that I think either one of them is going to get near the nomination.

      As for last year’s election: I don’t fully buy the conventional wisdom that the vote was just a referendum on O’Malley. Brown ran a terrible campaign in his own right, and I am aware at least anecdotally of people to the left of O’Malley who refused to vote for Brown.

      1. As for last year’s election: I don’t fully buy the conventional wisdom that the vote was just a referendum on O’Malley. Brown ran a terrible campaign in his own right, and I am aware at least anecdotally of people to the left of O’Malley who refused to vote for Brown.

        Indeed, O’Malley likely would have won a third term if he wasn’t constitutionally barred from doing so. He won in 2010 despite his record being no better at the time. However, the Republicans picked up 10% of the vote from 2010 to 2014 so I don’t think the result can be solely explained by Brown’s shittiness, either.

        1. It’s perhaps worth noting also that the Libertarian ticket, which was to the right of Hogan on many key issues (2A, taxes, etc.) cleaned up the remainder of the vote and gained over half a percent vs 2010.

        2. However, in support of Jesse’s position, turnout was down over 100,000 from 2010 to 2014, likely all Democrats.

  10. Marty O + Podesta Bros + Cajun Jimmy = twisting in the wind

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