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O'Malley picks Battle of Baltimore over Iowa

Few political events in Iowa are more important to an aspiring Democratic presidential candidate than the Harkin Steak Fry. And this year's fundraiser — the 37th and final for retiring Sen. Tom Harkin — is drawing some of its biggest names yet, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

The website celebrating the final year of the signature political event, being held Sunday in Indianola, Iowa, also has counted Gov. Martin O'Malley among its more prestigious guests in recent years.

But, even though he's weighing a presidential bid for 2016, O'Malley is staying home this year. He has the Battle of Baltimore to celebrate.

O'Malley is a War of 1812 aficionado. (His band, O'Malley's March, plays a rock ballad dedicated to the 1814 Battle of Baltimore.) And O'Malley planned to spend the weekend in Maryland, attending the 200th celebration of the skirmish with the British, a fight that inspired "The Star-Spangled Banner."

O'Malley has traveled extensively to early primary states — including four trips to New Hampshire alone — and deployed staff to Iowa, South Carolina and elsewhere to help other Democrats in the 2014 elections. But while other potential presidential contenders will be giving speeches in Iowa on Sunday, O'Malley will be at Fort McHenry, watching a flag being raised in a "by the dawn's early light" ceremony.

ecox@baltsun.com

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