Democrat O'Malley: Governor shift key to Congress

  • Article by: THOMAS BEAUMONT
  • Associated Press
  • June 21, 2014 - 10:05 AM

DES MOINES, Iowa — Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley isn't coy about his consideration of a 2016 presidential candidacy. "It's something I'm considering," he told The Associated Press Friday.

But until he makes that decision, he's on a quest to help Democrats win back governorships seized by Republicans in 2010, which would give Democrats the edge in congressional redistricting, an act most governors are afforded.

Republicans won a majority of governorships, including Iowa, as part of an arc that stretches from Wisconsin to Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, all which had been previously held by Democrats.

"These men and women who are elected governor in this term will likely be the governors doing redistricting in their second term, so it's important for the here-and-now, but it's important for the next decade of where our country's going," O'Malley told The Associated Press at the outset of a weekend of public appearances in Iowa.

O'Malley, finishing his second term in Maryland, spoke at the Iowa Democratic Party's annual pre-convention dinner Friday, and was expected to headline the 2014 state convention in Des Moines on Saturday. He was then scheduled to campaign with Democratic nominee for governor Jack Hatch, a state senator from Des Moines.

Hatch faces long odds against five-term GOP Gov. Terry Branstad, who had more than $4 million in his campaign fund after the June 3 primary, compared to Hatch, who said he needed $1 million by the end of 2013 to be viable, yet only raised $574,000 through mid-2014.

He cited Democratic candidate Mary Burke in Wisconsin as a serious candidate against Republican Gov. Scott Walker, especially in light of unsealed documents in a criminal probe of his administration that pointed to Walker himself as having breached campaign finance law in his 2012 recall election. He also touted former Rep. Mark Schauer, the Democrat challenging Gov. Rick Snyder in Michigan, where O'Malley campaigned earlier Friday.

Changing congressional district maps, which in almost all states are drawn by politically elected bodies, would help unlock the dysfunction in Congress, he said. And that, with House Majority Leader Eric Canter's surprising primary loss last year as a glaring exception, O'Malley said he thought it a good sign that Republicans were choosing mainstream candidates in primaries this year for open U.S. House seats.

"It's important to send a signal to those in Congress who think obstruction is good politics," he said. "I would like to believe that, just like most Democrats, Republicans want what's best for their country," he said.

By attending the Iowa Democratic Party's Hall of Fame Dinner Friday, and state convention Saturday, he is certainly following the custom of some would-be popular Democratic caucus contenders before him. Then-North Carolina Sen. John Edwards attended the midterm convention in 2002 and went on to surge to a strong second-place in the 2004 Democratic presidential caucuses before landing on the ticket with eventual nominee John Kerry.

In 2006, former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner attended the state party convention, only to later turn down the chance to run for president, and now is seeking re-election to the U.S. Senate.

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