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Marylander of the Year finalists: Martin O'Malley

When the year started, the talk around Annapolis was that Gov. Martin O'Malley had already checked out. In the sixth year of his tenure, many believed he was already looking ahead to a national role and viewed his day job as something of a chore.

But he came into this year's General Assembly session with a wide-ranging to-do list. He promised to back gay marriage, and his influence in pushing it through the legislature cannot be overlooked. But he also sought to set Maryland's longstanding budget problems on a path to resolution, to restrict development on septic systems that foul the Chesapeake Bay, to seek new funding for wastewater treatment plant upgrades and to win support for an ambitious plan to put wind turbines off the coast near Ocean City. He didn't win every issue, and he compromised on some, but on the whole, he had his most productive session since he first came to office.

And when the legislature adjourned after 90 days, Governor O'Malley's year was only getting started. He navigated a tense standoff between Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch that led to a collapse of budget negotiations and brought lawmakers back to enact a series of tax increases and spending cuts that have helped to place state spending on the verge of long-term sustainability. Then he called legislators back again to support a gambling expansion program. And he defended it -- along with gay marriage, in-state tuition for some illegal immigrants, a redrawn congressional district map and a handful of less-controversial measures -- at the ballot box. In the end, he was 7-0 on referendums and constitutional amendments. (For those keeping score at home, The Sun’s editorial board was 5-2, having differed with the governor on gambling and redistricting.)

The upshot: Maryland is stronger for Governor O'Malley's efforts this year. "His strong support for the passage of the Dream Act, Maryland redistricting, marriage equality, and expanded gambling affected more Marylanders than anyone in recent memory," J. Haulsee of Baltimore wrote in nominating Mr. O'Malley.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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