Martin O’Malley’s presidential candidacy is unquestionably good news for urban Democrats who like Irish rock bands. It may even appeal to a broader audience.
Any Democrat looking for an electable alternative to Hillary Rodham Clinton should welcome O’Malley’s candidacy. Before O’Malley entered the race Saturday, Clinton’s lone challenger was Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who does not even consider himself a member of the Democratic Party. O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland and former mayor of Baltimore, is positioning himself to Clinton’s left, giving liberals the chance to vote for someone who would have a fighting chance of getting elected if nominated, which is more than can be said of Sanders.
And it’s not just Democrats looking for a Clinton alternative: Clinton herself can benefit from O’Malley’s campaign. O’Malley will take some of the spotlight away from Sanders, a liberal firebrand, fracturing the opposition vote. A vigorous challenge from O’Malley also could help Clinton dispel the criticism that her nomination is a virtual coronation, and it could help her clarify her positions.
This is the case even when O’Malley is wrong on the issues — as he is on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, for example. O’Malley opposes the pact, as does Sanders, while Clinton has been straddling the issue. Ignoring a socialist is one thing. But O’Malley’s presence in the race should make it harder for Clinton to be evasive.
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O’Malley’s 15 years as governor and mayor give him more experience as a chief executive officer than any candidate of either party. Policy and personality always trump management expertise in presidential campaigns, which may explain some of Washington’s dysfunction. With any luck, O’Malley’s data-driven approach to governing will lead to greater media attention on how candidates plan to deliver on their promises.