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Less than one month into autumn of 2015 and the eyes of the nation already have their gaze set on Tuesday, the 8th of November, 2016. With the clock running down until Election Day, it seems 383 days early on that this might just be one for the making. Both sides of the political aisle have something this time around to add to history: a chance at the first female president, a shot for a political outsider to take the reins, and the continuation of a legacy for a political dynasty. However, apart from the handful of plenty candidates that fit these descriptions (Hillary Clinton, Carly Fiorina, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Ben Carson, and Jeb Bush), there is very little known about the presidential nameless that still hold on to their hopes, dreams, and points in the polls. In a world today so consumed by mass media it seems odd that information of this degree of societal importance is lacking. And so it is with this intent to educate, that key players in the impending primary, and eventually general election, will be outlined in a segmented series of bios.
On the topic of unfamiliar candidates there is perhaps no one better to start with than the former Maryland Governor, Martin O’Malley. Polling far behind Democrat frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, the answer “who?” is a common one when asked for opinions on the former Baltimore Mayor.
First elected to the Baltimore City Council, a position held for eight years, O’Malley announced his candidacy for mayor of Baltimore in 1999, eventually winning in a landslide victory. O’Malley’s tenure as mayor of Baltimore was one riddled by an array of criticism stemming from his platform of zero tolerance for crime in the city crippled by an average 300 homicides a year. Describing the city as the"most violent, the most addicted and the most abandoned city in America”, O’Malley’s strict approach resulted in the steepest drop in crime in the country, an achievement he holds dear to this day. However, what O’Malley and his administration deemed a blatant success in policy critics claimed as fuel to the growing feud between police and African Americans, whose incarceration rate skyrocketed during his time as mayor. With the death of Freddie Gray by the misconduct of Baltimore City Police in April of 2015, this became a strong case correlating the policies implemented by O’Malley more than a decade prior. The tension and civil unrest that both preceded and followed the death of Gray would be made by political opponents and civil rights advocates.
Nevertheless, O’Malley completed a Maryland gubernatorial bid successfully, on November 7, 2015, with a 53% majority of voters. As Governor of Maryland from the period of May 15, 2007 through May 16, 2014, O’Malley accumulated a record of 681 bills vetoed. Yet, it is the bills he actually did approve that show more towards his political leaning; signing bills allowing illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children eligible for in-state college tuition, legalizing same-sex marriage in the state, and prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity. Signatures on bills strengthening gun control and repealing the death penalty increased O’Malley’s favorability in the Democratic Party, opening the door for his candidacy for president in 2016.
O’Malley declared his candidacy on May 30th, pinpointing fifteen specific goals to be tackled by his would-be presidential agenda, of which his top five are listed as:
1. Increase American families’ median net worth by $25,000 in 10 years.
2. Generate 100% of America's electricity with renewable energy by 2050.
3. Cut the unemployment rate among young people in half within 3 years.
4. Reach full employment for American veterans by 2020.
5. Put 11 million new Americans on the pathway to citizenship through comprehensive immigration reform.
These are worthy causes, and yet in a year where political boldness is compared to the likes of candidates such as Bernie Sanders, they’re not as revolutionary when put into context. Having neither the popularity of the left wing youth, nor the name recognition and established reputation that Sanders and Clinton respectfully hold a monopoly on, O’Malley’s chance to take the reigns is bleak at best. However, in light of the recent drop out of former Virginia Senator Jim Webb, and a solid showing at the first Democratic Debate, the possibility for O’Malley to climb in the polls is something that is likely, yet perhaps arbitrary this far in. With Bernie Sanders hot on the heels of frontrunner Hillary Clinton it seems O’Malley will soon follow behind Jim Webb and bite the dust on his political campaign. O’Malley himself contests that despite a lackluster $1.3 million raised in fundraising in the third quarter, the surge in fundraising following the Democratic Debate will allow him to continue on to his perceived victory. However to most political analysts it seems clear that question is no longer if but when his funds and time will expire.
While the GOP this time around has taken this to an extent that perhaps is not as beneficial, having an array of candidates with different perspectives and allowing voters to have actual choices is quintessential to the sanctity of our democratic processes. And so to that O’Malley’s mere presence in this campaign season is one that should not be taken for granted.
Moving across political spectrums, in the next segment of “Better Know A Candidate” we will take a deeper look at the neoconservative up-in-coming Republican, Marco Rubio.
FLC Main: FR-108