ANNAPOLIS — A look at preparations by Gov. Martin O’Malley for a potential 2016 presidential campaign:
Nondenial denial: “No one ever goes down this road, I would hope, without giving it a lot of consideration and a lot of preparation and a lot of thought work, and so that’s what I’m doing.” — February. Spoke earlier of building “a body of work that lays the framework of the candidacy for 2016,” in an acknowledgment of presidential ambition that is rare in the field.
Book: No. “I’m not sure where I’d find the time for that.” It’s probably only a matter of time before he suddenly finds the time.
Iowa: Yes, in fall 2012 headlined U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin’s annual steak fry, a must-stop for many Democrats seeking to compete in the leadoff caucuses. In Maryland, attended fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, who is running for the Senate in Iowa.
New Hampshire: Yes, last November, spoke at Democratic Party dinner, where he criticized a political climate with “a lot more excuses and ideology than cooperation or action” and promoted himself as Baltimore’s former mayor and a governor who can get things done. Also spoke at a 2012 convention of New Hampshire Democrats. Appeared at fundraiser in Washington area last year for U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.
South Carolina: Yes, 2013 speech to Democratic activists.
Foreign travel: Yes, considerable. Israel last year for a second time. Also Denmark, Ireland, France, Brazil and El Salvador in 2013. Asia in 2011, Iraq in 2010.
Meet the money: Has many bases covered as one of the party’s top fundraisers. Raised more than $1 million for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign and in December ended his year as finance chairman for the Democratic Governors Association.
Networking: Yes. Busy spring, with speeches to California Democratic state convention in March, Wisconsin Democrats in April and Massachusetts Democrats in May. Was Democratic governors’ chairman for two years until December 2012. Campaigned in October 2013 for Democratic candidates in Florida, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas and elsewhere.
Hog the TV: He’s getting back in the swing. January 2014 Sunday news show appearance on CNN was first in months, followed by CBS in February. In September 2013, sparred with Texas Gov. Rick Perry over job creation and health care on CNN.
Do something: Has posted some victories as governor that appeal to liberals: toughened gun laws, repealed the death penalty, saw voters approve gay marriage after he got behind legislation to approve it, set up a framework to develop offshore wind power. In April, won legislative approval of minimum wage increase, a 2014 priority.
Take a stand: Liberal checklist: increased spending on education, infrastructure, transportation; supports same-sex marriage, immigration overhaul, repealing death penalty, pushes environmental protections.
Baggage: State-run health insurance exchange website was an expensive bust, prompting officials to make an embarrassing switch in April to one based on Connecticut’s. Deflection: Says Maryland still exceeded first enrollment goal of 260,000, largely due to much greater Medicaid enrollments than projected. Contraband- and drug-smuggling scheme at state-run Baltimore City Detention Center that resulted in 44 people being indicted prompted O’Malley to take immediate actions and make a variety of budget and policy proposals to increase security at the detention center and prisons.
The governor has a record of raising taxes that could be challenged by less liberal Democrats, never mind Republicans. Higher taxes on sales, corporate income, gasoline, people making more than $100,000 and sewer bills.
Shot across the bow from the head of Maryland’s Republican Party, Diana Waterman: “Outrageously high taxes, a hostile regulatory environment and thousands of people who are closing shop or leaving the state for greener pastures. This ‘progress’ he likes to boast about will be a tough sell to voters in Iowa and tax-wary New Hampshire.” O’Malley’s deflection: A vigorous defense of his record and state’s business climate, praise from U.S. Chamber of Commerce for state’s entrepreneurship and innovation.
Shadow campaign: Set up political action committee called O’Say Can You See and hired two people for fundraising and communications.
Social media: On Twitter, standard governor’s fare but promotes rare appearances by his Celtic rock band, O’Malley’s March, for which he sings and plays guitar, banjo and tin whistle. On Facebook, his PAC-generated page is more active than official governor’s account.