Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley returned to Iowa this weekend to campaign with Iowa Democrats, building more ties with Iowa activists who could be key contacts if O’Malley decides to run for president in 2016.
“It’s something that I’m seriously considering, but I’m here to campaign for Jack Hatch and for the other good Democrats here in Iowa,” O’Malley told Radio Iowa during an interview today. “…I hope to come back and do more.”
Just over three decades ago, O’Malley worked in eastern Iowa as an organizer for Gary Hart’s 1984 presidential campaign.
“I got out there around Christmas time and Scott County had yet to be organized, so Scott County was my primary area of responsibility,” O’Malley said.
On Saturday, O’Malley was just north of Scott County, in Clinton, to headline a fundraiser for a state senator, then he went to North Liberty to help another Democratic candidate for the state senate. On Sunday, O’Malley was in western Iowa where he headlined two private fundraisers for Jack Hatch, the Democratic candidate for governor, then he and Hatch spoke to Iowa Democratic Party volunteers headed out to go door-to-door in Sioux City to register voters. Despite recent world events, O’Malley said he senses the “primary anxiety” among most voters all across the country is the economy.
“And while we’ve done some good things as a country to avoid going over the fiscal cliff or sliding into a second Great Depression or having our financial markets totally collapse, the truth of the matter is there’s still a lot of anxiety throughout the country and in every state about whether or not our children will be able to live better lives than we have lived,” O’Malley said.
O’Malley is a two-term governor who cannot seek reelection due to Maryland’s term limits. During a Friday afternoon conference call with reporters, Iowa Republican Party chairman Jeff Kaufmann called O’Malley one of the “most liberal, eastern elite” governors in the country.
“Governor O’Malley is out of the mainstream,” Kaufmann said.
And Bill Dix, the Republican leader in the state senate who also participated in the telephone news conference, suggested the Iowa Democratic candidates who’ve campaigned alongside O’Malley this weekend are tainted.
“Looking at Governor O’Malley’s record, clearly they have a different solution,” Dix said. “It’s big government.”
Dix suggests O’Malley is a classic “tax and spend” liberal. O’Malley calls himself a progressive.
“No state that I’m aware of has ever cut its way to prosperity,” O’Malley said. “We need to be fiscally disciplined, but you also have to be smart enough to make investments to bring about that better future that I think everybody hopes for.”
Hatch called O’Malley a “practical” governor.
“I don’t have any problems campaigning with a governor that has lifted his state for the past five years as the number one state in public education,” Hatch said today.
High school students in Maryland must pass a test in order to graduate, for example, and the tests for the Class of 2015 will be tougher. O’Malley, who hinted he’ll be back in Iowa before November’s election, headlined the Iowa Democratic Party’s state convention in June and he served as the headliner at Senator Tom Harkin’s annual Steak Fry fundraiser in 2012.