Martin O'Malley

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Martin O'Malley
Martin O'Malley 2010.jpg
61st Governor of Maryland
In office
January 17, 2007 – January 21, 2015
Lieutenant Anthony G. Brown
Preceded by Bob Ehrlich
Succeeded by Larry Hogan
47th Mayor of Baltimore
In office
December 7, 1999 – January 17, 2007
Preceded by Kurt Schmoke
Succeeded by Sheila Dixon
Personal details
Born Martin Joseph O'Malley
(1963-01-18) January 18, 1963 (age 55)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Katie Curran (m. 1990)
Children 4
Alma mater Catholic University of America
University of Maryland School of Law
Religion Roman Catholicism
Website Official website

Martin Joseph O'Malley (born January 18, 1963) is an American politician who was the 61st Governor of Maryland from 2007 to 2015. He previously served as the Mayor of Baltimore from 1999 to 2007, and was a Baltimore City Councilor from 1991 to 1999.

O'Malley served as the chair of the Democratic Governors Association from 2011 to 2013, while being governor of Maryland. Following his departure from public office in early 2015, he was appointed to the Johns Hopkins University's Carey Business School as a visiting professor focusing on government, business and urban issues.

As governor, in 2011, he signed a law that would make illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children eligible for in-state college tuition. In 2012, he signed a law to legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland. Each law was put to a voter referendum in the 2012 general election, and was upheld by the majority of the electorate.

O'Malley publicly announced his candidacy in the 2016 presidential election on May 30, 2015, in Baltimore, after filing his candidacy form seeking the Democratic Party nomination with the Federal Election Commission the day before. He struggled to attract significant support, however, and on February 1, 2016, he suspended his campaign after finishing third in the Iowa caucus.

Early life and education

O'Malley was born on January 18, 1963, in Washington, D.C.,[1] the son of Barbara (née Suelzer) and Thomas Martin O'Malley.[2] Martin's father served as a bombardier in the U.S. Army Air Force in the Pacific theater during the Second World War, and recalled witnessing the mushroom cloud rise over Hiroshima while on a routine mission.[2] Thomas later became a Montgomery County-based criminal defense lawyer, and an assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. O'Malley's father was of Irish descent, while his mother's ancestry includes Irish, German, Dutch and Scottish.[3][4][5][6] He is a descendant of a War of 1812 veteran, and is an active member of the General Society of the War of 1812.

O'Malley attended the Our Lady of Lourdes School in Bethesda and Gonzaga College High School.[7] He graduated from the Catholic University of America in 1985. Later that year, he enrolled in the University of Maryland School of Law, earning his J.D. in 1988, and was admitted to the bar that same year.[8]

Early political career

In December 1982, while still in college, O'Malley joined the Gary Hart presidential campaign for the 1984 election. In late 1983, he volunteered to go to Iowa where he phone-banked, organized volunteers, played guitar and sang at small fundraisers and other events.[9] In 1986, while in law school, O'Malley was named by Congresswoman Barbara Mikulski as state field director for her successful primary and general election campaigns for the U.S. Senate. He served as a legislative fellow in Mikulski's office in 1987 and 1988. Later that year, he was hired as an assistant State's Attorney for the City of Baltimore, holding that position until 1990.[8]

In 1990, O'Malley ran for the Maryland State Senate in the 43rd Senate District. He challenged one-term incumbent John A. Pica in the Democratic primary, and lost by just 44 votes.[10][11] He was considered an underdog when he first filed to run, but "came out of nowhere" to lead Pica on election night, but eventually lost when absentee ballots were counted.[12] In 1991, he was elected to the Baltimore City Council representing the 3rd District and served from 1991 to 1999. As Councilman, he served as Chairman of the Legislative Investigations Committee and Chairman of the Taxation and Finance Committee.[13] During the 1992 Democratic primaries, he served as Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey's Maryland coordinator.[14]

Mayor of Baltimore


Stained glass window of Mayor O'Malley

O'Malley announced his decision to run for Mayor of Baltimore in 1999, after incumbent Kurt Schmoke decided not to seek re-election.[15] His entrance into the race was greatly unexpected,[16] and he faced initial difficulties as the only Caucasian candidate for mayor of a city which is predominantly African-American.[17] His strongest opponents in the crowded Democratic primary of seven were former City Councilman Carl Stokes, Baltimore Registrar of Wills Mary Conaway, and Council President Lawrence Bell.[18] In his campaign, O'Malley focused on reducing crime and received the endorsement of several key African-American lawmakers and church leaders, as well as that of former Mayor of Baltimore and Maryland governor William Donald Schaefer.[19] On September 14, he won the Democratic primary with a 53% majority[20] and went on to win the general election with 90% of the vote, defeating Republican nominee David Tufaro.[21][22]

In 2003, O'Malley ran for re-election. He was challenged in the Democratic primary by four candidates, but defeated them with 67% of the vote.[23] In the general election, he won re-election with 87% of the vote.[24]


During his first mayoral campaign, O'Malley focused on a message of reducing crime. In his first year in office, he adopted a statistics-based tracking system called CitiStat, modeled after Compstat, a crime-management program first employed in the mid-1990s in New York City. The system logged every call for service into a database for analysis. The Washington Post wrote in 2006 that Baltimore's "homicide rate remains stubbornly high and its public school test scores disappointingly low. But CitiStat has saved an estimated $350 million and helped generate the city's first budget surplus in years."[25] In 2004, the CitiStat accountability tool won Harvard University's "Innovations in American Government" award.[26] The system garnered interest from not only Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty[25] but even crime specialists from Britain.[27]

O'Malley spoke at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, arguing that 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry was a better choice for homeland security than President George W. Bush.[28]

While running for governor in 2006, O'Malley said violent crime in Baltimore declined 37% while he was mayor. That statistic came from an audit of crime that used questionable methodology and became the subject of controversy; he was accused by both his Democratic primary opponent Doug Duncan and his Republican opponent, incumbent Governor Bob Ehrlich, of manipulating statistics to make false claims. The Washington Post wrote at the time that "no evidence has surfaced of a systemic manipulation of crime statistics," but that "there is no quick or definitive way for O'Malley to prove his numbers are right."[29]

In early 2005, Governor Robert Ehrlich fired aide Joseph Steffen for spreading rumors of marital infidelity about O'Malley on the Internet. O'Malley and his wife had previously held a highly publicized press conference to deny the rumors and accuse Republicans of partisan politics, although discussions in which Steffen posted the rumors were initiated by an anonymous user under the pseudonym "MD4Bush" who was later found to be Maryland Democratic Party official Ryan O'Doherty.[30]

During a 2005 conference at the National Press Club, where mayors from across the US gathered to denounce President George W. Bush's proposed budget, O'Malley compared the budget to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, declaring, "Back on September 11, terrorists attacked our metropolitan cores, two of America's great cities. They did that because they knew that was where they could do the most damage and weaken us the most. Years later, we are given a budget proposal by our commander in chief.... And with a budget ax, he is attacking America's cities. He is attacking our metropolitan core." For this he was criticized by not only Republicans but fellow Democrats, and in a subsequent interview said he "in no way intended to equate these budget cuts, however bad, to a terrorist attack."[31]

Media attention

In 2002, at the age of 39, O'Malley was named "The Best Young Mayor in the Country" by Esquire; and in 2005, TIME magazine named him one of America's "Top 5 Big City Mayors".[32] In August 2005, Business Week Magazine Online called him one of five "new stars" in the Democratic Party, along with future US President Barack Obama, future US Senator Mark Warner, future US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and future Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Business Week declared that O'Malley "has become the Party's go-to guy on protecting the homeland.[33] The telegenic Mayor has developed a detailed plan for rail and port safety and has been an outspoken critic of White House security priorities."[33]

Governor of Maryland


Martin O'Malley announces gubernatorial campaign in Baltimore.

O'Malley considered a run for governor in 2002 but decided not to run. In October 2005, after much speculation, he officially announced he would run in 2006.[34] He had one primary opponent, Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan, who abruptly dropped out in June a few days after being diagnosed with clinical depression and endorsed O'Malley,[35] who thus became the Democratic Party nominee with no primary opposition, challenging incumbent Bob Ehrlich. He selected Delegate Anthony G. Brown as his running mate.[36]

The Baltimore Sun endorsed O'Malley, saying: "When he was first elected mayor in 1999, the former two-term city councilman inherited a city of rising crime, failing schools, and shrinking economic prospects. He was able to reverse course in all of these areas."[37] The Washington Post endorsed his opponent, but noted that O'Malley, while "not solv[ing] the problems of rampant crime and rough schools in Baltimore," had "put a dent in them" while criticizing his gubernatorial campaign for being too focused on Baltimore and offering "little of substance" on Washington-area issues.[38] The Washington Times complained that O'Malley, along with the Maryland General Assembly, had moved too far to the left.[39] O'Malley led by margins of several points in most polls during the campaign, but polls tightened significantly in the last week of the campaign. Yet he ultimately defeated Ehrlich 53%–46% in the November 7, 2006, general election.[40]

Major land developer Edward St. John was fined $55,000 by the Maryland Office of the State Prosecutor for making illegal contributions to the 2006 O'Malley gubernatorial campaign. The Washington Times reported later that the Governor's administration had issued a press release touting a new $28-million highway interchange leading from Interstate 795 to one of St. John's properties. Governor O'Malley's spokesman said there was no "quid pro quo," and a spokesman for the County Executive said the project had been a county transportation priority since before both O'Malley and the executive were elected.[41]

In 2010, O'Malley announced his intention to run for re-election while Ehrlich announced he would also run, setting up a rematch of 2006. His future rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton, said in a private email at the time that "he should be reelected by acclamation for steering the ship of state so well."[42] Despite major losses for Democrats nationwide, O'Malley defeated Ehrlich 56%–42%, receiving just over a million votes.[43] Due to term limits, he was unable to run for a third term in 2014.

First term


File:OMalley inauguration.jpg
Martin O'Malley's inauguration. Gov. Martin O'Malley was officially sworn for a second term by Robert M. Bell, chief judge for the Maryland Court of Appeals. O'Malley was joined by his family, wife Katie and children: Jack, William, Grace and Tara.

O'Malley called a special session of the General Assembly in November 2007 to close a projected budget deficit of $1.7 billion for 2008–2009,[44] in which he and other lawmakers passed a tax plan that would raise total state tax collections by 14%.[45] In April 2009, he signed the traffic speed camera enforcement law he had supported and fought for to help raise revenue to try to overcome an imminent state deficit. Through his strenuous lobbying, the measure was revived after an initial defeat and passed on a second vote.[46]

Maryland StateStat

One of O'Malley's first actions as governor was to implement the same CitiStat system he used to manage the city Baltimore as mayor on a statewide level. Maryland StateStat was first tried in 2007 by a few public safety and human services agencies. By 2014, over 20 agencies were engaged in the StateStat process through monthly individual agency meetings and quarterly cross-agency Stats including BayStat, StudentStat, VetStat and ReEntryStat. (The EPA would later base its ChesapeakeStat program on O'Malley's innovative BayStat program.) In 2012, he launched Maryland's Open Data Portal- StateStat, which used the data in the Portal to track progress towards his 16 strategic goals. As one of the few states at the time linking progress directly to open data, Maryland led the nation in government transparency and accountability.[47] O'Malley has said that President Obama has looked at StateStat as a potential model for tracking stimulus funding.[48]

Democratic Party

O'Malley was elected as the vice chairman of the Democratic Governors Association for 2009–2010, and on December 1, 2010, he was elected chairman for 2010–2011.[49]


Soon after entering office, O'Malley closed the Maryland House of Correction in Jessup, a notoriously violent maximum-security prison.[50]

National Popular Vote

In April 2007, O'Malley became the first governor to sign legislation entering a state into the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.[51] Designed to reform how states allocate their electoral votes, the National Popular Vote plan has since been enacted in nine additional states and the District of Columbia.[52]

Second term


In a debate during the 2010 campaign, O'Malley referred to illegal immigrants as "new Americans" while endorsing stricter enforcement against illegal immigration by the federal government.[53] In May 2011, he signed a law making the children of illegal immigrants eligible for in-state college tuition under certain conditions.[54] The law provides that illegal immigrants can be eligible for in-state tuition if they have attended a high school in Maryland for three years, and if they or their parents have paid state income taxes during that time.[55] In response, Delegate Neil Parrott created an online petition to suspend the law pending a referendum to be voted on in the 2012 general election.[56] On November 6, 2012, a majority (58%) of state voters passed referendum Question 4 in support of the law O'Malley had signed.[57]

During the 2014 crisis involving illegal immigrant children from Central America crossing the border, O'Malley refused to open a facility in Westminster, Maryland, to house them. The White House criticized his decision as hypocritical given his prior comments that he thought deporting all these children was wrong, but he protested that his remarks had been mischaracterized.[58]

Same-sex marriage

Further information: Same-sex marriage in Maryland

O'Malley supported a bill considered by the General Assembly to legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland, even though Archbishop of Baltimore Edwin O'Brien had urged him as a Catholic not to support the bill in a private letter sent two days before O'Malley voiced his support.[59] "I am well aware that the recent events in New York have intensified pressure on you to lend your active support to legislation to redefine marriage," O'Brien wrote. "As advocates for the truths we are compelled to uphold, we speak with equal intensity and urgency in opposition to your promoting a goal that so deeply conflicts with your faith, not to mention the best interests of our society."[59] O'Malley responded, "I do not presume, nor would I ever presume as Governor, to question or infringe upon your freedom to define, to preach about, and to administer the sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church. But on the public issue of granting equal civil marital rights to same-sex couples, you and I disagree."[59]

The Maryland House of Delegates approved this bill by 72–67 on February 17,[60] and the Maryland Senate passed it by a 25–22 margin on February 23.[61] It was amended to take effect only on January 1, 2013, pending a voter referendum.[62] After O'Malley signed the bill on March 1, 2012,[63] referendum petitioners collected the necessary signatures required to challenge the law,[64] but Referendum Question 6 in support of same-sex marriage passed by 52.4% on November 6, 2012.[65][66]

Animal welfare

In 2013, O'Malley signed a bill to ban the practice of shark finning in Maryland, making it the sixth U.S. state to enact this regulation. The signature of this bill made Maryland the first East Coast state to make it illegal to possess, sell, trade or distribute shark fins.[67]


O'Malley opposed a 2011 lawsuit filed by the University of Maryland Environmental Law Clinic against Perdue Farms, a poultry agribusiness corporation based in Maryland. The lawsuit accused Perdue of allowing run-off phosphorus pollution from one of its contact farms into Chesapeake Bay.[68] In 2014, he also promised to veto the Poultry Fair Share Act which would require poultry companies in Maryland to pay taxes to clean up the Chesapeake Bay equal to the existing cleanup taxes required of Maryland citizens.[69]

Also in 2014, O'Malley approved the practice of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," in western Maryland but only on condition of tight regulations. He had previously blocked the technique from the region for three years, awaiting the report from the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission on the risks and benefits of this controversial procedure.[70]

Capital punishment

O'Malley, a long-time opponent of capital punishment,[71] signed a bill on May 2, 2013, that repealed the death penalty in Maryland for all future offenders.[72] Although the repeal did not affect the five inmates then on death row in Maryland, O'Malley commuted the sentences of four of them to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.[73]

Gun control

O'Malley supported gun control in his second term.[74] On May 16, 2013, he signed a new gun control bill into law.[75]

Political ambitions

After O'Malley stood in for 2008 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at a Democratic campaign event on June 2, 2007 in New Hampshire, delegate Tony O'Donnell said in response, "It's the worst-kept secret in Maryland that the governor has national ambitions."[76] State Senator Thomas V. Miller, Jr. said O'Malley's political future "comes into play in everything he does", adding O'Malley is "very much like Bill Clinton in being slow and deliberative and calculating in everything he does."[76]

Speculation about O'Malley's plans was further fueled by his high profile at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, where he was given a prime-time speaking slot on the second night and spoke to delegations from several states including Iowa, where the first presidential caucuses are held in election years, and Ohio, a key swing state in recent presidential elections.[77] O'Malley's prominence at the convention generated both support for, and criticism of, his record. U.S. Senator Ben Cardin and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman praised his speech, with Ulman saying, "To borrow a catchphrase from his address, his career is moving forward, not back."[77]

2016 presidential campaign

O'Malley publicly expressed interest in a presidential run in 2016 on multiple occasions. At a press conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and at a National Governors Association meeting in August 2013, he admitted he was laying "the framework" for a presidential run.[78][79][80][81] In October 2014, he discussed some of his potential policies as President during a panel discussion with Paul Hawken and Tom Steyer.[82] In April 2015, he said he expected to make a decision on the race by the end of May.[83]

After months of consideration, O'Malley indicated on Twitter that he would announce his candidacy on May 30, 2015, at Baltimore’s Federal Hill Park.[84] On that date, he formally announced his candidacy for the 2016 presidential nomination.[85]

On February 1, 2016, after performing poorly in the Iowa caucuses, however, he suspended his campaign, receiving only 0.6% of state delegate equivalents awarded in the Iowa caucuses while both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders received over 49% each. After suspending his campaign, the former Maryland governor gave a speech, saying -

"Tonight, I have to tell you that I am suspending this Presidential bid. But I am not ending this fight. Our country is worth saving, the American dream is worth saving, and this planet is worth saving. So as we march forward to the fall, let us all resolve together that the love, the generosity, the compassion and the commitment of this campaign will continue to point our country forward."

On June 9, 2016, O'Malley officially endorsed Hillary Clinton.[86]


On May 5, 2016, O'Malley joined the MetroLab Network, a group focusing on city–university partnerships and based at Heinz College (the public policy school of Carnegie Mellon University). He was appointed chairman of the advisory committee and made a senior fellow.[87] O'Malley was subsequently made a fellow of the Institute of Politics and Public Service at Georgetown University.[88]

Personal life

O'Malley met his wife, the former Catherine "Katie" Curran, in 1986 while they were both in law school. At the time, he was working on Barbara Mikulski's U.S. Senate campaign and she was working on her father J. Joseph Curran, Jr.'s campaign for Attorney General of Maryland. They were married in 1990 and are the parents of four children, Grace, Tara, William and Jack.[89] Before the 2006 election, O'Malley's father-in-law, Joseph Curran, citing his age and his long career, decided not to seek re-election for Attorney General, preventing any conflict of interest that might arise in having O'Malley as governor.[90]

O'Malley's March

O'Malley's March
Origin Baltimore, Maryland
Washington D.C.
Genres Irish Rock, Folk Rock
Years active 1988–present
Labels none
Associated acts Martin O'Malley
Shannon Tide
Members Martin O'Malley
Jared Denhard
Jamie Wilson
Jim Eagan
Ralph Reinoldi
Sean McComiskey
Pete Miller
Past members Danny Costello

O'Malley has said that he grew up surrounded by Irish music.[91] While attending Gonzaga High School in Washington D.C. in 1979, young O'Malley and his football coach Danny Costello formed a band known as the Shannon Tide, which played in numerous shows around D.C. and Delaware specializing in Irish, Celtic and folk rock repertory.[citation needed] After graduation, he "went solo" but in 1988, he founded the Baltimore-based Celtic rock band O'Malley's March, in which he is still the lead singer and plays acoustic guitar and banjo.[92] In addition to Irish music, the band's mainstays include Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire," Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land," the parlor song "Hard Times Come Again No More," The Pogues' "Body of an American" and Passenger's "Scare Away The Dark.[93] In addition to more traditional venues, it often performs in O'Malley's campaign events. In 2012, it played at the White House as part of an extended Saint Patrick's Day celebration honoring Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny.[94]

In other media

According to David Simon, the creator of the HBO drama The Wire, the show's fictional mayor of Baltimore Tommy Carcetti is "not O'Malley," but O'Malley was one of several inspirations.[95][96] Writing in Baltimore Magazine several years after the show had closed, Simon did disclose a private phone conversation with O'Malley as production of the show's second season was beginning, in which the mayor urged that the show's contents be changed to put Baltimore and his own administration in a better light, and threatened the show's continuation in Baltimore unless such changes were made.[97]

O'Malley appeared in the film Ladder 49 as himself. The History Channel's documentary First Invasion: The War of 1812 featured him in a segment regarding the British attack on Baltimore in 1814.

Electoral history

See also


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  69. Shutt, Jennifer. "Governor O'Malley says he'll veto chicken tax bill". Delmarva Daily Times. 
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  71. John Wagner (March 15, 2013). "Md. Assembly votes to repeal death penalty". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 3, 2013. 
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External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Kurt Schmoke
Mayor of Baltimore
Succeeded by
Sheila Dixon
Preceded by
Bob Ehrlich
Governor of Maryland
Succeeded by
Larry Hogan
Party political offices
Preceded by
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend
Democratic nominee for Governor of Maryland
2006, 2010
Succeeded by
Anthony Brown
Preceded by
Jack Markell
Chair of the Democratic Governors Association
Succeeded by
Peter Shumlin