Martin O’Malley is running for president. He’s handsome (never takes a bad photo), sings and plays the guitar, oozes Irish charm and sports a solid liberal record appealing to most Democrats: gun control, death penalty repeal, gay marriage, minimum wage increase, aid to illegals, decriminalized pot, environmental regulations, fracking moratorium. He even gerrymandered a Republican out of Congress and chaired the Democratic Governors Conference.
He’s already campaigned in two dozen states including multiple visits to 2016 early primary states Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. He’s headlined fundraisers for Dem candidates across the nation and contributed $230,000 out of his own war chest. He’s dispatched his own campaign staff to three early primary states to help in this year’s local elections and to lay the groundwork there for his 2016 bid.
Oh, and he’s reportedly writing a book, a prerequisite for any White House hopeful. But it’s all for naught. Here’s why O’Malley can’t win in 2016:
Last year O’Malley’s election PAC raised $1.7 million, mostly from Marylanders. This year he’s raised another $900,000 with about $895,000 on hand, not enough to get through the first primary.
By comparison, Barack Obama raised $740 million for his 2008 campaign including $24.8 million in the first quarter of 2007. In four months O’Malley will leave office and lose his fundraising leverage while most national donors are waiting for Hillary Clinton.
Opposition researchers will have a field day producing negative attack ads on O’Malley. The taxpayer-financed Hilton Hotel he pushed through as mayor has lost $50 million since it opened in 2008, his East Baltimore Development Inc. urban renewal project is a flub and his zero tolerance mass arrests of black city residents resulted in the city paying $870,000 to settle an NAACP/ACLU lawsuit (how will O’Malley explain that on the campaign trail?).
Then there’s the Baltimore jail’s Black Guerilla family scandal, the $260 million Obamacare website fiasco and the 40 new taxes and fees costing Marylanders an extra $3.1 billion a year. O’Malley leaves behind an underfunded state employee pension fund, a structural deficit, the nation’s second highest foreclosure rate, second worst jobs rate and a state hooked on casino gambling.
But you’ll never see those attack ads because O’Malley won’t get traction. Despite all those early primary states visits, he’s polling 1 percent to 2 percent among Dems. He’s even running third in Maryland where most Dem officials are backing Hillary. And after next January’s inauguration, O’Malley is out of office: no mansion, no office, no car, no troopers, no visibility.
• Media scrutiny
O’Malley, spoiled by Maryland’s lapdog media, will run into a cut throat national press corps that will expose his wild claims: his $9.5 billion budget cuts that were actually a $10 billion increase, his $22 million tuition freeze which was funded by a $3.1 billion tax hike and the city he claims to have rescued which ranks fourth in homicides and sixth in violent crime.
Last week the National Geographic Channel featured a documentary crowning Baltimore as the “heroin capital of America” with this narrative, “Baltimore, a tough town facing hard times. The steel mills are gone. Entire neighborhoods stand deserted. On the streets people hustle to get by and for many the biggest hustle is the heroin hustle.”
All O’Malley’s months of campaigning and fundraising wiped out by one nationwide TV show.
Well, wink the pundits and wise guys, O’Malley is just following the Joe Biden playbook: run for president but settle for being Hillary’s running mate.
The problem is, Hillary doesn’t need him. O’Malley is too liberal, comes from a tiny blue state she’s going to easily win and doesn’t bring anything to the ticket (he bombed in both of his Democratic Convention speeches). Hillary needs a moderate male from a battleground state — someone like Florida senator Bill Nelson. Come November 2016, Martin O’Malley will be looking for a job.
But don’t despair Marylanders. The 2016 president’s race may feature a Baltimore Marylander on the ticket — the Republican ticket. Dr. Ben Carson, someone who brings a lot to the table.
Blair Lee is chairman of the board of Lee Development Group in Silver Spring and a regular commentator for WBAL radio. His past columns are available at www.gazette.net/blairlee. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.