Election 2020

Martin O'Malley Banking on Boot Camp to Propel Blue Wave

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malle takes the stage at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Two weeks ago, former Maryland governor and 2016 presidential candidate Martin O’Malley was pushing the candidacy of Florida Democrat Javier Fernandez, a candidate in what the Miami Herald reported was a “cutthroat special election.”

“Javier has a tough race on his hands, and his special election on May 1st is fast approaching,” Sunshine State News reported O’Malley said. “But we have a real opportunity to make sure this seat goes blue and continue chipping away at the Republicans’ majority in the state House….With your help, we can win back Florida, and move our country forward.”

Why would O’Malley care about a statehouse race in Florida? It’s all part of his grand plan to help Democrats rebuild their party, and perhaps, at the same time, bankroll some favors he might need in 2020.

After Florida, it was on to the Buckeye State and a congressional race.

“Happy to be in Ohio supporting @AftabPureval for OH-1,” O’Malley tweeted Tuesday. “We need a new generation of leadership.”

Campaigning in Ohio was also part of O’Malley’s political mandate for 2018. Democrats, he believes, have to stop focusing on the White House and U.S. Senate as the only elections that matter to the party.

Rather than winning from the top down, O’Malley, also a former mayor of Baltimore, wants Democrats to start recording victories from the bottom up. That means winning at the congressional and even the state legislative levels.

And that’s why O’Malley launched his Take Back Your State PAC last year.

“This is not a time for anybody to sit on the sidelines or to try to read tea leaves for 2020,” O’Malley told Politico ahead of the PAC’s launch in November 2017.

“Life is all about how we transform our grief. There are a lot of Democrats who, for the last year, have been wallowing in grief. I, instead, decided to get out on the road and help really decent people who are running,” O’Malley also said.

O’Malley will be back in his home state of Maryland on Saturday hosting the “Win Back Your State Campaign Camp.”

A Win Back Your State PAC statement released to PJM said O’Malley would show approximately 40 “young activists” at the University of Maryland event the “nuts and bolts of organizing and winning elections in 2018.”

“The candidates we’ve backed for Win Back Your State and the activists we’re training to be the next generation of elected leaders are brave, committed and inspiring,” O’Malley said.

“In my life, I’m not sure I’ve ever been more proud of my party than I am right now – not the leaders in Congress, but the grass-roots, where we see new life, bravery and hope every single day,” O’Malley said. “Every week, it seems, Democrats are winning in places President Trump carried by 20 points.”

The 40 people participating in Saturday’s training are all associated with Win Back Your State PAC-endorsed candidates who are running for state-level offices.

Could the Take Back Your State PAC also be a way for O’Malley to bank favors from Democratic Party candidates who win, with his help in 2018, ahead of another possible run for the White House two years from now?

Although O’Malley has repeatedly stressed he has not made a decision about a presidential bid in 2020, he has dropped hints about a campaign.

Politico reported in March 2017 that O’Malley’s leadership PAC paid for a Public Policy Polling survey of the Democratic Party’s Iowa caucus. It showed O’Malley had the support of 18 percent of the caucus attendees out of a field of nine possible candidates.

“Gov. O’Malley spent a lot of time in Iowa during the campaign and made a very favorable impression on Iowa Democrats. We wanted to see if the conversations he started with Iowans resonated and are glad to learn that they did,” said O’Malley’s 2016 campaign manager Dave Hamrick.

O’Malley assured a Politics and Eggs audience in New Hampshire on April 3 that he is “keeping an open heart and an open mind” about running for president one more time.

Even though his campaign flamed out early in 2016 and Hillary failed, O’Malley told the Concord Monitor a lot has changed in the past two years.

O’Malley said voters will be in a “different mood” in 2020 and “the first course correction for that is 2018.”

Well, PPP surveys and nautical metaphors aside, Splinter News pop culture reporter Isha Aran had some advice for O’Malley in a column entitled, “Martin O’Malley Won’t Let Resounding Public Indifference Keep Him from Mulling a 2020 Run.”

“Of course, just because the beefcake with a heart of gold has surfaced from relative obscurity to essentially call dibs on a presidential run doesn’t mean he should, you know, run,” Aran wrote. “Sometimes it’s just better to take the .6 percent (he received in the 2016 Iowa caucus) and let it go, man.”