Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley launched his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination on Saturday, portraying himself as a true progressive who is determined to fight economic inequality and defend the American worker. O’Malley’s credentials seem to be tailor-made for a Democratic bid, and any other year primary voters would likely get excited about the good-looking former mayor and governor, notes the New York Times. But this cycle, it may be difficult for anyone to break into a race that has been dominated by Hillary Clinton, particularly since Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is already appealing to the liberals who may be disenchanted by the former secretary of state’s second presidential run.
O’Malley has been a staunch Clinton supporter in the past, and that’s why he had seemed reluctant to criticize her too strongly. But on Saturday, he criticized Clinton by pinpointing her similarities to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. “Recently, the CEO of Goldman Sachs let his employees know that he’d be just fine with either Bush or Clinton,” O’Malley said. “The presidency is not a crown to be passed back and forth by you between two royal families.”
Will he try to make the contest primarily an ideological battle, tapping progressive unrest with the state of the Democratic Party and possibly Clinton to frame a left vs. centrist contest? Will he, as his mentor Gary Hart did when the former senator from Colorado nearly upset Walter F. Mondale in the 1984 Democratic contest, seek to draw a sharp generational contrast, of future versus past, new ideas against a tired Democratic status quo? Or can he make it a combination of the two?
While O’Malley may just be the strongest contender to challenge Clinton, he isn’t likely to get very far. Part of that has to do with Clinton’s strength, of course. But it’s also because “O’Malley’s campaigning over the last year has not made him the champion of the left so far,” writes NBC News’ Perry Bacon Jr. “Many prominent liberals have either endorsed Clinton, are still waiting for Warren to run or are backing Sanders.”