He hasn’t launched a 2016 presidential campaign yet, but former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is making his intention to challenge Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2016 abundantly clear.
“Let’s be honest here,” O’Malley said on ABC’s This Week. “The presidency of the United States is not some crown to be passed between two families.”
O’Malley said that the nation needed “new leadership” and a fresh “perspective” in 2017, and implied strongly that Clinton was not the candidate best positioned to deliver either. “History is full of times when the inevitable frontrunner is inevitable right up until he or she is no longer inevitable,” he added… Okay, eloquence is not his strong suit just yet. He’s got time.
Even before Clinton’s controversial email practices and unethical fundraising behavior was exposed, Democrats were eager to see the former New York senator face some kind of a primary challenge.
A Monmouth University poll from January found that 48 percent of the nation’s Democrats want to see Clinton perform in a contested primary while only 43 percent think the party should coalesce around the presumptive nominee early. A CBS News survey in late March confirmed those findings and revealed that 66 percent of Democrats wanted to see Clinton face some competition. “The Democratic Party will have a primary race whether presumptive front-runner Hillary Clinton ultimately decides to enter the race or not, political observers and state Democrats said,” The New Hampshire Union Leader reported last week.
“I fully anticipate we’re going to have a very robust primary,” said the Granite State’s Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley. “It’s going to happen. A challenger to Clinton will emerge. There will be an alternative, and I anticipate a very vibrant primary.”
So is that challenger O’Malley? Not today. Those elements of the Democratic Party who are the most nervous about Clinton’s viability or commitment to progressive ideals continue to demand that Sen. Elizabeth Warren set her career on fire by kneecapping the party’s presumptive nominee. On Monday, the president of the Communications Workers for America union and Greenpeace’s executive director signed an open letter calling for Warren to listen to those like The Boston Globe’s editorial board and former Labor Sec. Robert Reich by announcing a presidential bid.
Warren has made her intentions clear, but these progressives are not going to become comfortable with Clinton just because their preferred challenger is ignoring their draft efforts. O’Malley, a two-term governor of a deep blue state and a former big city mayor, has the bona fides the “anyone but Hillary” left is looking for. What’s more, the former Old Line State governor is uniquely able to outperform Clinton in the retail politics department, and that could move the needle in places like Iowa.
“I think there is a little bit of hesitancy on the part of Democrats to jump on the Hillary bandwagon at this point because they are not convinced,” one Democratic county chairman told CNN reporters. “For one thing she hasn’t been out here talking to us, and we like to have people come out and see us, obviously. And we don’t know exactly how strong she is going to be for the progressive ideas that most of your active Democrats in Iowa do have.”
O’Malley seems to be setting his sights on the Hawkeye State’s caucuses, where the energy and enthusiasm of a candidate’s supporters can close any organizational gap. There, O’Malley is pressing the flesh, and he hopes that Clinton fatigue will explode by January when he will remain the most viable of the uninspiring cast of Hillary alternatives. In a state in which Clinton finished third in 2008, it is not hard to imagine the former secretary of state underperforming again in 2016. Lightning never strikes twice, right up until the moment it does.