Photos via Martin O’Malley/Twitter and Flickr/crockodile
Photos via Martin O’Malley/Twitter and Flickr/crockodile

Several years after an ill-fated bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, former Baltimore Mayor and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley announced today that he won’t be running for president again, after all.

In an op-ed published in the Des Moines Register—2020 primary season is already underway in Iowa, where the state’s caucuses open the race every general election cycle—O’Malley quickly acknowledged his 2016 campaign as a “long-shot” bid that “found its flame extinguished between a rock and an angry place in my own party.”

Instead, he said, Americans should back Beto O’Rourke, the Texas Democrat who recently lost a close Senate race against incumbent Republican Ted Cruz (and gave up his U.S. House seat in the process).

O’Malley called O’Rourke’s run “courageous” and said he “ran a disciplined and principled campaign that also managed to be raw, authentic, and real.” Despite falling short in the race, O’Rourke has been credited with his own eponymous “Beto effect” of stirring up support for other Dems who did manage to oust congressional, state-level and judiciary Republicans in Texas.

O’Malley celebrated O’Rourke’s “fearless vision and unifying message which brought people together in Texas [and] also sparked imaginations all across our country. And, I believe, will again—if Beto O’Rourke runs for president.”

O’Rourke, it should be noted, has amassed a voting record over his three terms in Congress that skews more conservative than his Democratic colleagues (and still left of most Republicans in Congress), Vox reported last month. Which is to say, he’s far more middle-of-the-road than other popular potential Democratic contenders, such as former Vice President Joe Biden and Sens. Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren, all of whom have expressed interest in running or are formally exploring candidacy.

Another Maryland politician is already campaigning for the Democratic nomination. Remember? Former three-term Rep. John Delaney declared in 2017, giving up his House seat in the process, to kick off a very early campaign against President Donald Trump. He’s already been busy touring Iowa ahead of what will almost surely be a congested Democratic presidential primary.

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...