I was struck this week by a very brief but, very telling moment during President Obama’s press briefing after a meeting with the nation’s governors on Monday. It was a moment – with a local angle – that may have served as foreshadowing for the presidential campaign of 2016.

The president was shouting out Governor Martin O’Malley for the innovations in education he has championed in Maryland when he barked, “Where’s Jack O’Malley…Jack O’Malley where is he?”

The governor, who was sitting nearby, paused for a second and then offered a semi-audible quip that had to do with his 9-year old son, who is named Jack. That’s when the president corrected his gaffe, “I mean Martin…,” the president said.

Earlier that day I heard a couple of national political commentators toss around names of politicians – they believed – likely to toss their hats in the ring for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016. They somewhat sardonically mentioned O’Malley as someone who didn’t shy away from the national spotlight and who was most assuredly a contender for 2016.

They say, “All press is good press,” right…especially in politics.

Awkward moments aside, the truth is Governor O’Malley’s national profile has been rising slowly and steadily for years.

O’Malley, still basking in the glow of his high-profile victory to make Maryland the eighth state to legalize same sex marriage, is very much a player on the national political scene.

I had lunch a few months ago with a close friend at a swanky Washington, D.C. restaurant who happens to work for a progressive Democratic think tank and she spoke glowingly about O’Malley as a national figure in the Democratic Party. She talked about the innovations in science here in Maryland among other things and argued he was highly regarded in the country’s highest progressive political circles.
But, to those who have covered Maryland politics – and specifically Baltimore City politics for any length of time – O’Malley’s burgeoning national profile should be no surprise.

I remember when O’Malley was mayor of Baltimore, the ongoing joke among some politicians and political reporters was he was simply biding his time before he took his rightful place in the governor’s mansion in Annapolis.

But, I think those people were shortsighted.

I remember hearing a veteran politico trotting out the theory that O’Malley was determined to become the next Irish Catholic president of the United States, after John Kennedy of course. It seemed like a lofty proposition for a man mired in Baltimore’s grimy political wars at the time. All these years later it doesn’t seem like such a reach anymore. But, hindsight is always 20-20.

I remember Orioles owner and O’Malley nemesis Peter Angelos – no stranger to Maryland politics – claiming Governor O’Malley would never be anything but, a small time mayor. Well, it seems if Governor O’Malley and his supporters have their way, the ongoing misery of the Orioles won’t be the only bane of Angelos’ existence.

For me and my colleagues who have followed Governor O’Malley since the days he represented the old Third District of Baltimore City it seems like there was always talk swirling about O’Malley’s national political aspirations, even way back then.

Now, O’Malley who is chairman of the Democratic Governor’s Association, has become a fixture on the national political talk show circuit as we move through the volatile GOP primary process and President Obama muscles up to defend the title and make his bid for four more years.

You better “believe” Martin O’Malley is determined to say all the right things and make all the right moves to be in position to take the president’s spot in 2016.

But, of course there’s a woman who happens to be the current United States Secretary of State whose initials are, Hillary Clinton who might have some input in the Democratic nominating process four years from now.


Sean Yoes

AFRO Baltimore Editor