If O’Malley gets any national traction, it’s going to be because of his high-profile advocacy for gay marriage, which is now constitutionally guaranteed in Maryland thanks to a referendum question that narrowly passed in November. Along with opposition to the death penalty, gun control may be a secondary way to enhance his liberal bona fides, but that’s about all. For Cuomo, acting on gun control also serves the purpose of making him acceptable to the Democratic base after picking fights with unions and sitting back as Republicans maneuvered their way to maintain control in the state Senate.
The bigger question is whether Cuomo and O’Malley merit the first-tier presidential stature they’ve been receiving lately. I’ve written about how thin the Democratic presidential bench looks for 2016, sans Hillary, with a bunch of secondary politicians looking to punch above their weight class. Desperate to build their national stature and fill a vacuum, they’re looking to grab at national issues to please the base ahead of a presidential run.
If Hillary Rodham Clinton doesn’t run, the slew of dark-horse candidates will look all the more credible as 2016 draws closer. Why not former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who combines a much-needed populist shtick and red-state credibility? Or Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who would fill the much-needed demand for a female contender, and has proven she can win over swing voters in a rural, Republican House district. Could Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa translate his stature as a leading Hispanic voice in the party to a national campaign? Bet on them before O’Malley and Cuomo.