Candidate Profile: Martin O’Malley (D)

Full NameMartin Joseph O’Malley

Occupations: Former Governor of Maryland and Mayor of Baltimore

Education: B.A., The Catholic University of America; J.D., University of Maryland

Age: 52

Party: Democratic

Notable Endorsements: His Wife

It is without a doubt that the youth, vitality and charisma of President Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns were critical to his victories in each. The Democratic Party was able to capitalize on the energy brought by the Obama campaigns to first grab, and later secure, the White House. In 2016, however, with Obama not eligible to run, the Democrats are left with a predicament. While Hillary Clinton has the name recognition, experience, and political machine to seriously contend, many argue she lacks the charisma, as well as the progressive vision to excite the more liberal wing of the party. Martin O’Malley believes that he can be that challenger to Hillary.

O’Malley was considered a rising star in the Democratic Party as Mayor of Baltimore. He was able to gain support and work with the urban community in Baltimore to tackle crime. Esquire named him “The Best Young Mayor in the Country” in 2003. In 2005, Business Week named him and then-Senator Barack Obama as two of the “new stars” in the Democratic Party. He later served as Governor of Maryland from 2007-2015, and as Governor, Maryland was considered the most transparent and accountable state government in the nation. He announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for President on May 30, 2015.

Economy & Taxes

O’Malley has been keen to tackle issues of income inequality and believes that Americans deserve better wages. He notes that despite the fact American workers are more productive nowadays, they fail to reap most of the benefits, instead being concentrated in the hands of a few wealthy Americans.

He argues that the minimum wage should be raised to $15 an hour, reasoning that Americans should be able to live off of what they earn.

O’Malley believes unions should have more collective bargaining power.

O’Malley contends that Wall Street is out of control and needs to be held accountable of the 2008 economic crisis. He wants to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act to regulate activity on Wall Street. He also has claimed that we need to “break up big banks before they break us.”

Welfare & Poverty

O’Malley believes that safety net or welfare programs are pivotal in combating poverty.

O’Malley has set an ambitious goal of cutting poverty in half within 10 years. He argues it can be met through investments in urban communities, public educations and programs such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (essentially a refundable tax credit planned to lessen tax burdens on low-income families).

He believes that Social Security should not be privatized, but rather be expanded.

Campaign Finance Reform

While O’Malley believes the Citizens United decision has had many ill effects on our elections, he argues the best way to curtail the massive amount of money being spent by special interests in elections is not a constitutional amendment reversing Citizens United, but rather by making elections publically funded.

He believes that small contributions should by matched 6-to-1 by the government and a tax credit should be granted to encourage more of the electorate to be engaged in the political process

O’Malley claims that voting is the most fundamental right in a democracy, so voting should made easier for citizens. He wants to eliminate ID requirements for voting, restore the Voting Rights Act and modernize the registration process.

Criminal Justice

While O’Malley is generally one of the “cleanest” candidates in regards to controversial scandals or statements, his largest controversy stems from the recent events in Baltimore.

As Mayor of Baltimore, O’Malley instituted a statistical tracking system to be used to cut costs and reduce crime. While the program did save the city $350 million, the Washington Post noted that the “homicide rate remain[ed] stubbornly high.” He was accused of manipulating crime statistics.

Following the death of Freddie Gray and the subsequent riots in Baltimore, many blamed O’Malley’s program and ineffectiveness in addressing issues between residents and police forces as some of the underlining causes of the events.

O’Malley is against capital punishment and repealed the death penalty in the state of Maryland as Governor.


O’Malley believes climate change is real and is man-made. He is in favor of limiting carbon emissions and investing in renewable and clean energy.


As Governor, O’Malley signed a bill that would grant eligibility for children of undocumented immigrants to attend college for in-state tuition if certain conditions were followed.

O’Malley is in support of “comprehensive immigration reform” and believes executive action may be necessary to achieve such goals. He claims that providing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants expand the U.S. economy and benefit the nation as a whole.

Marijuana Legalization

O’Malley signed legislation as Governor decriminalizing possession of smaller amounts of marijuana, but is not in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana. He has called marijuana “a gateway to even more harmful behavior.”

Same-Sex Marriage

As Governor, O’Malley supported and signed a bill allowing same-sex marriage to be put to a referendum to the citizens of Maryland in 2012. It was eventually passed and legalized.

O’Malley’s support for the bill generated controversy between him and Catholic clergy due to O’Malley being Catholic. The Archbishop of Baltimore urged O’Malley to oppose any bill redefining marriage, claiming that same-sex conflicted with O’Malley’s faith. O’Malley responded that he disagreed.

Women’s Rights

Maternity leave, equal pay for women and affordable child care are a must for the United States, in order to fully empower women, O’Malley contends.

Gun Control

O’Malley is in favor of increased gun control. He is in favor of banning various assault weapons, limiting sizes of ammo magazines and increased regulation of purchasing handguns.


O’Malley argues that education is the best tool to maintain equality of opportunity in the United States. He supports making childcare more affordable and pre-K programs universal. He also contends that college should be debt-free for every American.

He wants to reform American high schools to make sure that every high school student graduates with either a year of college credit, a skilled-apprenticeship, or a certificate for a high-skilled job.

Final Verdict

While O’Malley may have progressive rhetoric, he has generally failed to provide a concrete plan of how many of his programs will be implemented. Most of his rhetoric also seems to be taken from Bernie Sanders, the Independent Senator from Vermont, who has garnered more support among youth and progressives. As a result, he seems very unlikely to emerge as the progressive challenger to Hillary Clinton, because as of June 2015, he is currently polling less than 2% in Democratic Primary polls. Keep in mind there are also only five candidates running on the Democratic side and he still is polling less than 2%.

O’Malley’s campaign is in an awkward position. He’s attempting to be the hip, progressive alternative to Hillary Clinton and on paper, he should be, since his top two opponents are Hillary Clinton and a 74-year-old named Bernie. However, many believe he’s just dull. Maybe he comes off as too bland or less-than-genuine, like he’s desperately trying to be the Obama of 2016. My prediction for O’Malley is that he drops out of the campaign following the first primary event in January, after receiving less than 5% of the vote in the Iowa Caucus.

Image Credit to Reuters/Jim Bourg

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