O’Malley to Skip White House Bid, Backs O’Rourke Instead

    Former Maryland Gov. Martin J. O’Malley (D) used the pages of The Des Moines Register Thursday to announce that he will not be a candidate for president again in 2020 – but wants outgoing U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), another Irish rock-and-roll musician, to run instead.

    “In 2016, my long-shot presidential candidacy found its flame extinguished between a rock and an angry place in my own party. America wasn’t in the mood for new leadership,” O’Malley wrote in a commentary for the newspaper. “We were in a mood of anger, rage and retribution. And in this mood, Donald Trump’s candidacy rose. It was good for ratings, and good for the Russians; but, bad for America. And, we got what we got. But now, there is a different mood in our nation. People are looking for a new leader who can bring us together. They are looking for a unifier and a healer. They are looking for a leader of principle, and they are now looking for a fearless vision.”

    As a run-up to a possible second presidential campaign, O’Malley visited 30 states over the past two years to stump for Democrats – many of them running in tough-to-win districts.

    “They spoke to the goodness within us as a people. And they spoke with a fearlessness about the future we can build together,” he said.

    O’Malley then went on to extol the virtues of O’Rourke, the three-term congressman from El Paso who ran a high-profile but ultimately unsuccessful bid to oust U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R) in 2018. O’Rourke, 46, whose congressional term ended at noon Thursday, is now pondering a White House bid.

    O’Malley, who helms an Irish rock group, O’Malley’s March, did not mention that O’Rourke played bass and drums in various rock bands, including the Swedes.

    “In his courageous run for U.S. Senate in Texas, O’Rourke ran a disciplined and principled campaign that also managed to be raw, authentic, and real,” O’Malley wrote. “He spoke to the American values of honesty, compassion for one another, and courage in the face of a rapidly changing future. These are the American values alive and well in the hearts of our young people. These are the values which tell us where America is headed. And with these values, O’Rourke very nearly defeated the incumbent senator and Republican runner-up for president — in Texas.”

    O’Malley argued that O’Rourke is uniquely equipped to meet the modern challenges – and listen to the needs of Americans.

    “So, while I will not be running in 2020, I would like to put my faith and trust in a fearless American future — an American future large enough for all of our children,” he wrote. “Like so many other Americans, I believe we need new leadership to make that future a reality. And, I believe the new leader who can best bring us together and turn us around to create that better American future, is Beto O’Rourke.”

    Click here to read O’Malley’s op-ed.

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    Josh Kurtz
    Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.