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Opinion
WYPR's Senior News Analyst opines on recent Maryland news.

Smith: O'Malley Is All In

He’s in. Start saving your old campaign buttons, so you can I knew him when.

Martin O’Malley says he will announce his decision  about running for president soon.  You really don’t have to wait though. Just look at his recent travel history. Iowa and New Hampshire, of course, but other stops as well.

O’Malley knew as well as any potential candidate what it would take to be a candidate. Spring 2015, would have been way too late to start – unless he was Hilary Clinton or the latest Bush (Jeb in this case.) Money and organization don’t just materialize. You have to earn then both. You have to beg and plead over and over and over.

O’Malley’s been doing that. Funnily enough his receptions have probably been much warmer elsewhere. There’s no O’Malley fatigue where he’s been.

And here’s the really interesting thing. Have you noticed? He’s the only game in town in the campaign target zones. The aforementioned Clinton, also has not declared her candidacy. Any other potential contender apparently waits to see if Mrs. Clinton will actually do what everyone thinks. That is to O’Malley’s advantage as well.  Everyone else will be playing catch-up.

It should also be clear to all, fans and not-fans, that Martin O’Malley is running for president – not for vice president or a cabinet post or for the U.S. Senate. He quickly declined an opportunity to run for Barbara Mikulski’s soon-to-be vacant seat.

I asked him several months ago what he had learned about running for president. He’s worked for contenders. And he was a friend of Richard Ben Cramer, author of “What It Takes,” a voluminous examination of candidates and what drove them to run. Before his death, Cramer urged him to examine his heart and head – to know himself deeply – the better to handle running for the job and the job itself. 

His own conclusion, O’Malley told me: Not enough well-intentioned, strong, committed people run.

So, don’t wait for the official announcement. O’Malley’s running for president.