2015 was the year former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley left Government House for the national stage, as he declared his hard-to-miss intention to seek the Democratic nomination for president.
Despite the rather uncrowded field, O’Malley struggled to gain traction with voters. He became the third wheel in a primary race that quickly became a contest between Sen. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. And his tough-on-crime legacy as mayor of Baltimore didn’t go over well at a moment when the public is questioning aggressive policing practices. As the year went on, O’Malley’s plays for political survival became progressively more desperate.
Here they are, in chronological order:
April — Redefines law enforcement legacy in Baltimore. With several commentators tracing the tensions that erupted on the streets of Baltimore following the death Freddie Gray back to O’Malley’s tenure as mayor, the candidate was forced to recast his broken-windows policing strategy as “assertive” rather than “aggressive.”
June — Goes after the youth vote with everything he has. O’Malley busted out his guitar, his (relative) youthfulness, and a plan for debt-free college to show younger millennials he’s way more in touch than oldsters Sanders and Clinton.
July — Pushes an overly optimistic poll projection that wouldn’t even give him the nomination. After at least one media outlet had already dubbed him “out of the race,” O’Malley argued that his 1.4 percent support among likely Democratic primary voters was no big deal. His plan was to gain a percentage point in the polls “every couple weeks as we move toward January.” As wishful as that projection was, it still wouldn’t have worked out to O’Malley getting the nomination — not even close.
October — Sings on The View. O’Malley was miffed that pop star Katy Perry performed a benefit concert in Iowa for “one of [his] opponents,” so he hit back with a secret weapon: (a cover of) Taylor Swift (‘s song “Bad Blood”)! Congratulations, Perry. You are now the proud owner of a beef with the presidential candidate with the highest self-regard-to-poll-numbers ratio!
November — Accepts public financing. To keep his cash-strapped campaign afloat, O’Malley made the difficult decision to accept public financing, a move that comes with spending restrictions basically guaranteed keep a candidate from winning.
December — Reads rap lyrics on college comedy show. O’Malley proved that he was as game as they come when he read rap lyrics written especially for him by two Texas college students. Included are the lines, “[I]f you look at the polls, you might get the impression / That United States president won’t be my next profession / But just FYI bro, you’re so dang wrong / Soon my polls will be higher than Cheech and Chong.”
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