Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Go, Marty, Go!

Martin O'Malley, the former mayor of Baltimore and the former governor of Maryland, announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination this past Saturday.  And pundits are already gleefully writing him off.  Even before he declared his candidacy, Nia-Malika Henderson of the Washington Post used his name as a punchline. And on the PBS Newshour's weekend edition, Hari Sreenivasan noted that O'Malley has one percentage point in one poll to Hillary Clinton's 57 percentage points.  And Perry Bacon, writing on NBC's web site said that while O'Malley has the best chance against Hillary among the Democrats who hope to run  against her in the primaries and caucuses, he rates O'Malley as having no chance whatsoever.
Don't count him out just yet.  Not only is it early, but the largely unknown O'Malley has a chance of making himself known very quickly and increasing his poll numbers exponentially if he can compete effectively in Iowa and New Hampshire.  And he has two arrows in his quiver that Bernie Sanders also has: his opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal and his call for more regulation of Wall Street.  Hillary has not come out for or against the TPP even as the Democratic Party's liberal base is increasingly against it - indeed, Hillary doesn't even has an issues page on her Web site - and, as O'Malley himself noted, the CEO of Goldman Sachs would be comfortable with either her or Jeb Bush in the White House.  But O'Malley two other advantages Bernie Sanders doesn't; he's been the governor of a state of six million people and he's been the mayor of a city of 622,104 people.  Sanders' only executive experience has been mayor of Burlington, Vermont, a municipality that, despite being Vermont's largest city, has even fewer people than the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, where Sanders grew up.
It may not be long before O'Malley's tenure as mayor of Baltimore is held against him, as he instigated the tough crime-fighting policies that many people hold responsible for mutual distrust between the police and residents of the city's most impoverished neighborhoods, which led to the arrest and the death of Freddie Gray in April 2015.  O'Malley has to find a way to get beyond that, as that, not his obscurity, could be his Achilles heel.  Speaking about his time as mayor of Baltimore, O'Malley has defended criminal justice record and his "zero tolerance" toward by noting the drop in violence and drug abuse in Baltimore under his leadership. But, in response to ABC's George Stephanopoulos' question about how many problems with crime and poverty in Baltimore remained unresolved when O'Malley left city hall, O'Malley replied that there's always more to be done.
Yeah, he's going to have to do better than that.
But he has a solid record as governor of Maryland.  Consider this:  an increase in Maryland's minimum wage, record spending on the state's education system. the legalization of same-sex marriage, a sweeping gun-control measure and a repeal of the death penalty. His record is a progressive's dream. Now he has to sell it.
He also has to provide reasons not to vote for Hillary Clinton.  Not just in expressing differences between himself and her.  He has to go hard after her on economic issues and her coziness with corporate and corporate-Democratic interests.  And he shouldn't be afraid to go after the jugular.  This is no time to be timid.
And that's one thing he can learn simply from watching Bernie Sanders.
Don't get me wrong, I love Bernie.  But there can only be one anti-Hillary, the anti-Hillary has to be a winner, and Bernie can't win.  And Elizabeth Warren isn't running.  I'm for Marty. :-)          

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