Martin O’Malley, Former Governor of Maryland and Presidential Candidate Speaks to Aspiring Young Politicians

Governor O’Malley was late to the event due to D.C. rush hour traffic. After racing up the stairs of the Pryz he entered Great Room A, fumbled with his clip-on mic and ignored the podium on the stage so he could stand on the floor closer to students. Courtesy of Liz Friden

By Duane Paul Murphy

Former Maryland Governor and presidential candidate Martin O’Malley spoke to more than 50 students on Thursday, November 8, in the Pryzbyla Center about the future of the Democratic party and the country itself. The event was organized by the College Democrats of the Catholic University of America.

O’Malley ran for President in 2015, but withdrew from the Democratic presidential primaries in January of 2016 after losing to former First Lady Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in the contested Iowa Caucuses.

“This is reality, folks, and it is our great responsibility, the greatest freedoms and privileges to embrace the moment,” O’Malley said to the audience. “To realize that darkness makes a great canvass.”

Before becoming governor and a presidential candidate, O’Malley, a former Catholic University of America student of the Class of 1985, started his political career early in his life as an organizer for former Colorado Senator Gary Hart’s presidential campaign in 1984.

While studying law at the University of Maryland School of Law between 1986 and 1988, O’Malley was hired as a state field director for Baltimore area Congresswoman Barbara Mikulski’s Democratic primary and general elections for the U.S. Senate in 1986. From 1998 to 2006, O’Malley was a city councilman in Baltimore and was mayor between 1999 and 2007.  During his tenure as Maryland’s governor between 2007 and 2015, O’Malley’s administration improved public education, decreased the costs of public higher education, abolished the death penalty, passed its own DREAM Act for undocumented foreign national students, and legalized same-sex marriage for LGBTQ couples.

In his opening statement, O’Malley spoke about the current state of the country including the Democratic Party victories in the 2018 midterm elections, the state of Trump Administration, and the recent mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, California. Despite the polarized state of politics, O’Malley expressed hope and optimism to young people and the need for action to better the country for the people as well as rising progressive views on LGBTQ rights, gun control, and the environment.

After his brief opening remarks, students asked a wide variety of questions. When asked about the divide in the Democratic Party between moderate centrists and leftist progressives, O’Malley does not believe there is a divide and observed that Democratic Party candidates across the country are advocating various solutions for opportunity for all and greater inclusion to better the lives of ordinary people including healthcare, affordable college, a good job, and a decent wage.

O’Malley also talked about Allison Ikley-Freeman, a 26-year-old former therapist at a nonprofit mental health agency in Tulsa who is gay and married with three children. Ikley-Freeman won a special election for a Oklahoma’s State Senate seat that was deeply Republican. When the topic of Democrats supporting public banking was brought up, O’Malley said that he supports Democrats and progressives advocating for public banking systems to help working class communities such as postal banking where a local post office can also act as a bank and reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act, which separates commercial and investment banking.

There was no speaking fee to lure O’Malley speak at his alma mater and students felt fortunate to hear him speak on campus.

“It was great to hear from such a prominent Catholic University alum,” junior politics major Kelly Kirchgasser said.

“I vividly remember talking about O’Malley’s campaign in my politics class, so meeting and hearing from the guy was cool. On top of that he seemed really optimistic about our generation entering government.”

Since his presidential run, O’Malley has been traveling the country supporting Democratic candidates for various political offices. O’Malley launched the Win Back Your State PAC and currently travels the country on its behalf.  O’Malley has been seen a potential presidential candidate for his party’s nominee in 2020 against President Donald Trump, but has dodged questions about the potential run. 

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