Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who was considered a potential Democratic candidate for president after a failed 2016 bid, said Thursday that he will not run in 2020 and instead urged former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke to get into the race in a Des Moines Register op-ed.
O’Malley, also a former mayor of Baltimore, said his “long-shot presidential candidacy” in 2016 “found its flame extinguished between a rock and an angry place in my own party.”
He said O’Rourke, who came close in the 2018 midterm elections to unseating Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in Texas, “ran a disciplined and principled campaign that also managed to be raw, authentic, and real.”
“The fearless vision and unifying message which brought people together in Texas also sparked imaginations all across our country,” O’Malley wrote. “And, I believe, will again — if Beto O’Rourke runs for president.”
O’Malley spent the past two years campaigning for 120 Democratic candidates in 30 states for the 2018 midterms with his “Win Back Your State” political action committee.
The U.S. and the world face many challenges, including building a stronger economy, reversing climate change and passing immigration reform, O’Malley said.
“O’Rourke has the wisdom to listen, the courage to lead, and a rock-solid faith in the powerful goodness of our nation,” he wrote, adding: “And because he is from a border state, O’Rourke understands the enduring symbol of our country is not the barbed-wire fence, it is the Statue of Liberty.”
O’Malley also touted the Texas congressman’s values — “honesty, compassion for one another, and courage in the face of a rapidly changing future” — as those shared by the next generation.
“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,” O’Malley wrote.
Donald F. Norris, professor emeritus of public policy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, said O’Malley has come to the correct realization about his own prospects.
“It strikes me that Martin personally made a wise choice when he announced that he was not going to run because his campaign was so sad the last time,” Norris said. “He had the probability of not improving much over that — which is unfortunate because I thought he did a really good job as a mayor of Baltimore and governor of the state. He was never able to get any traction at all in his presidential campaign.”
That said, Norris said he doesn’t believe O’Malley’s endorsement gives O’Rourke much of a boost.
“I don’t know that Martin carries any weight in his endorsement,” Norris said. “Where are the O’Malley troops that would come out for O’Rourke?”