Martin O'Malley

Martin O'Malley Marches Out of the Presidential Campaign

Martin, we hardly knew ye.

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Guess we'd better put these back in storage, Barnaby.
Crockett Johnson

Not long after I moved to Baltimore in 2002, I met a reporter who was smitten with Mayor Martin O'Malley. She would go to his speeches even when she wasn't assigned to cover them, just because she really liked them. Nearly a decade and a half later, after the mayor-turned-governor entered the presidential race, I would periodically peek at the polls and figure that she was probably among the one to four percent of Democrats who supported his candidacy.

Or maybe she was for Hillary—she really liked the Clintons too. That's the O'Malley campaign for you: I'm not sure even the one true Martin O'Malley superfan I ever knew was planning to vote for him.

Either way, she won't get a chance now. After a pathetic performance in the Iowa caucus—the final numbers aren't in yet, but right now he's just barely ahead of "uncommitted"—Martin O'Malley is suspending his campaign. This isn't unexpected, except inasmuch as it wasn't clear how long it would take him to wise up and call it quits.

O'Malley had governed Baltimore and then Maryland as a corporate-liberal technocrat, yet was trying to run as an anti-establishment insurgent. This basic authenticity problem was bad enough on its own; it was worse still in a Democratic contest that already had both a corporate-liberal technocrat and an anti-establishment insurgent. As O'Malley alternately touted his executive experience and called for far-reaching federal programs, he tended to come across as a man wavering between being Clinton Lite and Sanders Lite.

Not surprisingly, there wasn't much demand for that. As I write these words, it still isn't clear whether Clinton or Sanders won tonight's caucus. But there's no question who finished last.