Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley on Wednesday endorsed an Indiana mayor to lead the Democratic National Committee, eschewing fellow Marylander and a former member of his cabinet, Tom Perez.
O'Malley backed South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, saying he represents a "fresh start" for a party still reeling from its loss to President Donald Trump in November.
"The Democratic Party of the past became very good at telling millennials to wait their turn. But the future cannot wait," O'Malley wrote in a post on Medium. "We must call forward the goodness in the hearts of young Americans if we are going to save our country and overcome the darkness of Trumpism."
Buttigieg is 35.
Buttigieg, Perez, Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota and seven other candidates will appear in Baltimore on Saturday for a final forum to discuss their vision of the party. Party insiders will choose their next DNC chairman -- and other party officials -- later this month.
Perez briefly ran for Maryland attorney general in 2006, but was knocked off the ballot by the state's Court of Appeals, which held that he lacked the 10 years of legal experience in Maryland required by the state Constitution. Douglas F. Gansler was elected to the post instead.
O'Malley then chose Perez to serve as the state's labor secretary, a job he held from 2007 until 2009, when he took over the civil rights division at the Justice Department.
Maryland Policy & Politics
Though Perez has locked down some major endorsements, including former Vice President Joe Biden and a half dozen Democratic governors, he has not received overwhelming support from his home state. Only two members of the state's overwhelmingly Democratic congressional delegation -- Sen. Ben Cardin and Rep. Steny Hoyer -- have backed him.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Baltimore has endorsed Ellison. The rest of the delegation has not weighed in on the race.
On the other hand, members of the delegation do not vote for the next DNC chairman.
O'Malley, 54, has been working to retain some of the spotlight after dropping out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination last year. He has campaigned in Iowa, for instance, and appeared with protesters at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport following Trump's executive order temporarily banning travel from seven majority Muslim countries.
Perez backed Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary, not O'Malley.
The former governor, a visiting professor at Boston College, also recently delivered a speech in which he blasted partisan gerrymandering while acknowledging his own administration drafted a political map in 2011.
The address came days before a federal judge required former O'Malley officials to turn over documents related to that process in the case questioning the constitutionality of Maryland's congressional districts.