Martin O’Malley Backs Beto O’Rourke For President

Beto O'Rourke on the campaign trail.
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Martin O’Malley — the former Baltimore mayor and Maryland governor who ran for president on the Democratic side in 2016 — announced on Thursday that he won’t be running again. And he also said that he will support the candidacy of former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke — in the event that O’Rourke runs. O’Rourke ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 2016, losing to Republican incumbent Senator Ted Cruz.

O’Malley broke the news in an op-ed piece for the Des Moines Register in Iowa, leading with the headline “Here’s who I’d like to see run for president. (Hint: It’s not me).” The choice of newspaper is not an accident, as Iowa is the first caucus state.

“I will not be running for president in 2020, but I hope Beto O’Rourke does,” O’Malley writes to begin the piece.

He goes on to look back at his 2016 campaign, in which O’Malley won no primaries. He argues that the 2016 electorate wasn’t in the mood for what he was offering, which he described as “new leadership.”

“But now, there is a different mood in our nation. People are looking for a new leader who can bring us together. They are looking for a unifier and a healer. They are looking for a leader of principle, and they are now looking for a fearless vision,” O’Malley writes, and he lists several candidates that ran in 2018 — including ones for whom he personally campaigned.

He then indicates that O’Rourke, who is relatively new to the national political scene, is the one to provide that new leadership.

“In his courageous run for U.S. Senate in Texas, O’Rourke ran a disciplined and principled campaign that also managed to be raw, authentic, and real,” O’Malley writes. “He spoke to the American values of honesty, compassion for one another, and courage in the face of a rapidly changing future. These are the American values alive and well in the hearts of our young people. These are the values which tell us where America is headed. And with these values, O’Rourke very nearly defeated the incumbent senator and Republican runner-up for president — in Texas.”

O’Malley was Governor of Maryland from 2007 through 2015, serving two terms as Mayor of Baltimore before that. O’Malley, after failing to gain traction against Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, dropped out of the race for president after the Iowa caucuses in 2016.

The character of Baltimore Mayor Thomas Carcetti on The Wire, played by Aidan Gillen, was based on O’Malley.