The Democratic field is slowly growing with former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley joined the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. O’Malley, 52 launched his presidential campaign on Saturday morning, May 30, 2015 at an event in Baltimore, Maryland, where the former governor gave a speech in the city where he been mayor for two terms. O’Malley is focusing his campaign on progressive issues most prominent income inequality, to the left of frontrunner Hillary Clinton, but competing directly with another Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders. The two-term governor is considered a long shot.
O’Malley made his official announcement in a speech at Federal Hill Park, and when he spoke “Baltimore’s Inner Harbor” was in the backdrop, “To you and to all who can hear my voice. I declare that I am a candidate for President of the United States, and I am running for you.”
Some of his campaign themes are “new leadership,” which is also one of his campaign slogans along with “Rebuild the American Dream,” and “executive experience.” Despite the emphasis on experience he wanted to define himself as more youthful that both his challengers, referring to “this generation.” O’Malley said, “The story of our country’s best days is not found in a history book. Because this generation of Americans is about to write it.”
The Democratic candidate’s policy focus is on economic inequality and the American worker. O’Malley pointed out what is wrong with the country, “Our economic and political system is upside down and backwards, and it is time to turn it around.” He also invoked the fragility of the American Dream, “The American Dream seems for so many of us to be hanging by a thread” and he plans to end the “growing gap of injustice in our country.”
O’Malley expressed, “We have saved the world before and we must save our country now – and we will do that by rebuilding the American Dream.” The former governor invoked the theme again saying, “This is the urgent work calling us forward today: to rebuild the truth of the American Dream for all Americans. And to begin right now.” O’Malley promised to make gay marriage legal in “all 50 states,” comprehensive immigration reform, and wants to close the gap between “rich and poor” creating more “economic fairness.”
O’Malley took aim at Republican frontrunner former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Democratic frontrunner and rival Hillary Clinton, who O’Malley called “royal families” accused of catering to Wall Street and big business. O’Malley stated, “Goldman Sachs is one of the biggest repeat-offending investment banks in America. Recently, the CEO of Goldman Sachs let his employees know that he’d be just fine with either Bush or Clinton.” Continuing the former governor responded, “I bet he would. Well, I’ve got news for the bullies of Wall Street: The presidency is not a crown to be passed back and forth by you between two royal families.”
The former Maryland governor (2007-2015) just completed his second term in January, and instituted many “liberal policies” including, “same-sex marriage, gun control, and “in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants,” a “progressive tax code,” supported Obamacare, expanded the state’s health care and raised the minimum wage to $10.10. Those liberal policies would be considered an advantage, except he is now facing a backlash for his no tolerance to crime and backing “aggressive” police tactics during his terms as Baltimore mayor (1999-2007).
In the wake of the death of African American Freddie Gray, who died of injuries he sustained while in police custody, O’Malley is facing additional obstacles. After Gray’s death, there were protests, riots, looting and fires in the streets of Baltimore, until the six police involved were charged and then indicted, and then calm returned to the city.
O’Malley faced a small group of protesters at his launch, because of his past positions on the police’s aggressive tactics. The former Maryland mayor acknowledged the problem, “What took place here was not only about race, not only about policing in America. It was about everything it is supposed to mean to be an American.” He noted the “the scourge of hopelessness” in the cities, saying, “There is something to be learned from that night, and there is something to be offered to our country from those flames.”
O’Malley faces a tough challenge for the Democratic nomination in the latest Quinnipiac University poll he only polled at 1 percent, Clinton had 57 percent and Sanders had 15 percent supports. O’Malley admitted it in his speech, “I’m drawn to tough challenges, and this one is certainly a tough challenge.” Sanders is also campaigning on the same progressive and liberal issues. O’Malley will next appear on ABC’s This Week Sunday morning, May 31, and he then continues campaigning in the early and important primary states, travelling to Iowa and where he will hold “meet and greet” events in Davenport and Des Moines.
Bonnie K. Goodman is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies, both from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program. She covers US, Canadian & Israeli politics, with a particular focus on the Obama presidency, Congress, domestic policy, and elections.