Not only does O'Malley's extended family live on the northern side of Pittsburgh, but "we also think he's an up-and-coming Democrat on the national stage," Mills said. "We're very excited about his future and see him, maybe, as the next vice president."

Polls of potential 2016 Democratic contenders put O'Malley far behind both Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, neither of whom has announced intentions to run. But that hasn't stopped some high-profile Democrats from speculating how O'Malley would fit on a national ticket.

When Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas gave an address to the Maryland Democratic Party's annual fundraising gala in September — speaking just ahead of O'Malley that night — he closed his remarks by describing a vision of hoping to watch Fox News commentator Bret Baier on Election Day.

"He will say, at 8:30 at night, we're going to call this election," Castro told the crowd. "The results from Texas and from other states have come in, and we're going to call this election for the Democratic ticket: Hillary Clinton and Gov. Martin O'Malley from Maryland."

Maryland Democrats cheered at the remark, which O'Malley did not mention during his speech that followed. Asked twice Friday whether he wanted to be vice president, O'Malley said, "I'm here for Barbara Buono. And I want my children to live in a country of more, not a country of less, and leadership matters."

As O'Malley spoke to the New Jersey Educators Association on Friday, the organization's vice president, Marie Blistan, leaned over to the group's secretary and whispered, "I've got to figure out how to vote for him."

Blistan was elated to learn that he is considering a bid for the presidency. "He's articulate, he's smart. He's a contender for everything, maybe even a vice president with Hillary Clinton," she said. "I want to vote for him as president."

Before O'Malley spoke to the New Jersey educators, Buono supporters played a campaign video that ended with Buono's remark that Christie "wants to be president. I want to be your governor."

O'Malley gave Buono a high five.

ecox@baltsun.com

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