For those reading the 2016 tea leaves, one Democratic hopeful has had a great week and it’s not Hillary Clinton.
While Clinton struggled after making a gaffe in an interview with the Guardian in which when she said that she wasn’t “that well off” Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley had a big Tuesday. Both of the statewide candidates that he backed in his home state won their primaries handily. Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, O’Malley’s handpicked successor, won over 50% of the vote in a three way gubernatorial primary against the state’s Attorney General Doug Gansler and Delegate Heather Mizeur. Brown was running explicitly as someone who would continue the policies of the incumbent and triumphed handily over Gansler who ran to his right and Mizeur who ran to his left.
An even bigger win for the Maryland Governor was when the candidate he endorsed, State Senator Brian Frosh won by over 20 points against Delegate Jon Cardin. Cardin is the nephew of Senator Ben Cardin and ran with his uncle putting all of his political resources behind him. The result raises O’Malley’s stock by cementing his position as one of the top power brokers in his own state.
Maryland’s Democratic primary came only three days after O’Malley paid his first trip to Iowa. The Maryland Governor was well received as the keynote speaker at the Iowa Democratic Party’s state convention and then campaigning with gubernatorial nominee Jack Hatch in the eastern part of the state.
O’Malley’s political success in his home state isn’t likely to impress Democratic activists in Iowa or New Hampshire but it does further establish his bona fides as a national political figure. In contrast to potential 2016 rival Andrew Cuomo, who has been dealing with internal conflict within his state party, O’Malley has now further demonstrated his political power within his relatively small fief of Maryland. It’s not enough to make him a frontrunner but it does show the Democrat has a solid base from which to mount a presidential bid. After all, it's hard to win an early primary if you haven't already locked up your home turf.