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Clean sweep of referenda good news for O’Malley

Maryland conservatives successfully petitioned three laws passed by a Democrat-controlled General Assembly and signed by Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley to referendum on Election Day. O’Malley and legislature then signed off on a gambling bill that required voter approval.

With less than handful of Maryland’s 1,850 electoral precincts reporting, all four laws — the DREAM Act, a gerrymandered Congressional redistricting map, legalization of gay marriage and casino gambling expansion — were upheld by the state’s voters.

That’s big news for a governor widely thought to be pursuing national office in 2016.

“It enhances his national stature, for sure,” said Donald F. Norris, chairman of the Department of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. “Four ballot measures [passed], including the map. … I couldn’t believe that. I was stunned.”

O’Malley said Monday that Tuesday’s ballot questions were not a referendum on him as a governor. But experts said failure of one or all of Maryland’s controversial statewide referenda would be a mark against the state’s term-limited governor, who has made commonplace national television appearances on behalf of the national Democratic party.

Instead of worrying about his legacy, Norris said, O’Malley can now revel in an election night victory in which his name appeared nowhere on voters’ ballot.

“I think one of the big things coming out of this election is what this does to O’Malley’s stature,” Norris said.