Martin O’Malley

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This article is about the Governor of Maryland. For the journalist, see Martin O’Malley (journalist).
Martin O’Malley
Governor O'Malley Portrait.jpg
Governor O’Malley in July 2015
61st Governor of Maryland
In office
January 17, 2007 – January 21, 2015
Lieutenant Anthony 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
January 18, 1963 (age 52)
Washington, D.C., United States
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Katie Curran (m. 1990)
Children 4
Alma mater The Catholic University of America
University of Maryland
Profession Lawyer
Religion Roman Catholicism

Martin Joseph O’Malley (born January 18, 1963) was the 61st Governor of Maryland, from 2007 to 2015, and is running for President of the United States in the 2016 election. Prior to being elected as Governor, he 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 serving as governor of Maryland. Following his departure from public office in early 2015, he was appointed to the Johns Hopkins University’s Carey Business Schoolas 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, and 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 upheld by a majority of the voting public.

O’Malley publicly announced his candidacy in the 2016 presidential election on May 30, 2015, in Baltimore, Maryland, and filed his candidacy form seeking the Democratic Party nomination with the Federal Election Commission on May 29, 2015.

Early life and education[edit]

Martin O’Malley was born on January 18, 1963, in Washington, D.C.,[3]

the child of Barbara (née Suelzer) and Thomas Martin O’Malley.[4] Martin’s father served as a bombardier in the U.S. Army Air Force in the Pacific theater during the Second World War, and said he witnessed the mushroom cloud rise over Hiroshima while on a routine mission.[4] 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 and his mother has Irish, German, Dutch, and Scottish ancestry.[5][6][7][8] He is a descendant of aWar 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.[9] He went on to The Catholic University of America, graduating in 1985. Later that year he enrolled at the University of Maryland School of Law, earning his Juris Doctor in 1988 andpassing the bar that same year.[10]

Early political career[edit]

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, and played guitar and sang at small fundraisers and other events.[11] In 1986, while in law school, O’Malley was named by CongresswomanBarbara Mikulski as her state field director for her successful primary and general election campaigns for the U.S. Senate. Later he served as a legislative fellow in Mikulski’s office from 1987 to 1988. In 1988, O’Malley was hired as an assistant State’s Attorney for the City of Baltimore, holding that position until 1990.[10]

In 1990, O’Malley ran for the Maryland State Senate in Maryland’s 43rd Senate District. He challenged one-term incumbent John A. Pica in the Democratic primary and lost by just 44 votes.[12][13] O’Malley was considered an underdog when he first filed to run but “came out of nowhere” to lead Pica on election night. O’Malley eventually lost the race when absentee ballots were counted.[14] In 1991, he was elected to the Baltimore City Council to represent 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.[15] During the 1992 Democratic primaries, O’Malley served as Bob Kerrey‘s Maryland coordinator.[16]

Mayor of Baltimore[edit]

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.[17]O’Malley’s entrance into the race was greatly unexpected,[18] and he faced initial difficulties, being the only caucasian candidate for Mayor of a city which is predominantly African-American.[19] O’Malley’s strongest opponents in the crowded Democratic primary of seven were former City Councilman Carl Stokes, Baltimore Register of Wills Mary Conaway, and Council President Lawrence Bell.[20] 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 former Mayor of Baltimore and Maryland Governor, William Donald Schaefer.[21] On September 14, O’Malley won the Democratic primary with 53%.[22] O’Malley went on to win the general election with 90% of the vote, defeating Republican nominee David Tufaro.[23][24]

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.[25] In the general election, he won re-election with 87% of the vote.[26]


During his first mayoral campaign, O’Malley focused on a message of reducing crime. In his first year in office, O’Malley adopted a statistics-based tracking system called CitiStat, modeled after Compstat, a crime management program first employed in the mid-1990s inNew 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.”[27] In 2004, CitiStat accountability tool won Harvard University’s “Innovations in American Government” award.[28] The system garnered interest fromWashington, D.C., Mayor Adrian Fenty[27] as well as crime officials from Britain.[29]

In 2004, O’Malley spoke at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, arguing that 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry was a better choice on homeland security than President George W. Bush.[30]

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; O’Malley was accused by both his Democratic primary opponent Doug Duncan and his Republican opponent Gov. 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.”[31]

In early 2005, Maryland 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. The discussions in which Steffen posted the rumors were initiated by an anonymous user going by the name “MD4Bush”, later revealed to be Maryland Democratic Party official Ryan O’Doherty.[32]

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. In his speech, O’Malley said: “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.” O’Malley was criticized by Republicans and fellow Democrats for his statement, but in an interview later said he “in no way intended to equate these budget cuts, however bad, to a terrorist attack.”[33]

Media attention[edit]

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”.[34] In August 2005, Business Week Magazine Online named O’Malley as 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 said that O’Malley “has become the Party’s go-to guy on protecting the homeland.[35] The telegenic Mayor has developed a detailed plan for rail and port safety and has been an outspoken critic of White House security priorities.”[35]

Governor of Maryland[edit]


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, O’Malley officially announced he would run in 2006.[36] He had one primary opponent, Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan. In June 2006, Duncan abruptly dropped out a few days after being diagnosed with clinical depression, and endorsed O’Malley.[37] O’Malley was thus nominated by the Democratic Party, unopposed on the primary ballot, to challenge incumbent Bob Ehrlich in the November 2006 election. O’Malley selected Delegate Anthony G. Brown as his running mate.[38]

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.”[39] 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.[40] The Washington Times opined that O’Malley, along with the Maryland General Assembly, had moved to the far left.[41] 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. O’Malley ultimately defeated Ehrlich 53%–46% in the November 7, 2006, general election.[42]

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 fromInterstate 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.[43]

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. Despite major losses for Democrats nationwide, O’Malley defeated Ehrlich 56%–42%, receiving just over one million votes.[44] Due to term limits, O’Malley was unable to run for re-election in 2014.

First term[edit]

Martin O’Malley’s inauguration


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.[45] In response, O’Malley and other lawmakers passed a tax plan that would raise total state tax collections by 14%.[46] In April 2009, O’Malley signed a traffic speed camera enforcement law, a bill which he supported and fought for in order to help raise revenue to try to balance the deficit facing Maryland. Through strong lobbying by O’Malley, the bill was revived after first having been defeated. After a second vote, the measure passed.[47]

Maryland StateStat[edit]

One of O’Malley’s first actions as Governor was to implement the same CitiStat system he used to manage Baltimore City on a statewide level. Maryland StateStat began in 2007 with 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 their ChesapeakeStat program on O’Malley’s innovative BayStat program.) In 2012, Governor O’Malley launched Maryland’s Open Data Portal- StateStat uses the data in the Portal to track progress towards the Governor’s 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.[48]

Democratic Party[edit]

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 facility.[50] He also adapted the CitiStat program that he devised for Baltimore and applied it to the state of Maryland. This new program is called StateStat. O’Malley has said that President Obama has looked at StateStat as a potential model for tracking stimulus funding.[51]

National Popular Vote[edit]

In April 2007, O’Malley became the first governor to sign legislation entering a state into the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.[52] 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.[53]

Second term[edit]


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

During the 2014 crisis of illegal immigrant children from Central America crossing the border, O’Malley refused to open a facility in Westminster, Maryland, to house the children. The White House criticized his decision as hypocritical, given comments he made indicating that he thought deporting all the children was wrong. He then responded saying the White House mischaracterized his remarks.[59]

Same-sex marriage[edit]

Further information: Same-sex marriage in Maryland

O’Malley voiced his support for a bill considered by the General Assembly to legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland. O’Malley, a Catholic, was urged by the Archbishop of Baltimore Edwin O’Brien not to support the bill in a private letter sent two days before O’Malley voiced his support.[60] “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.”[60] 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.”[60]

The Maryland House of Delegates approved the bill by a 72–67 vote on February 17,[61] and the Maryland Senate approved the bill by a vote of 25–22 on February 23.[62] The bill was amended to take effect on January 1, 2013, allowing for a voter referendum.[63] O’Malley signed the bill on March 1, 2012.[64] After signature, referendum petitioners gathered the support required to challenge the law.[65] Referendum Question 6 in support of same-sex marriage was passed by 52.4% of the state’s voters on November 6, 2012.[66][67]

Capital punishment[edit]

O’Malley, a long-time opponent of capital punishment,[68] signed a bill on May 2, 2013, that repealed the death penalty in Maryland for all future offenders.[69] Although the repeal did not affect the five inmates then on death row in Maryland, O’Malley commuted the sentences of four prisoners remaining on Maryland’s death row to life imprisonment without the possibility for parole.[70]

Gun Control[edit]

O’Malley supported gun control in his second term.[71] On May 16, 2013, he signed a new gun control bill into law.[72]

Political ambitions[edit]

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’Donnellsaid in response, “It’s the worst-kept secret in Maryland that the governor has national ambitions.”[73] 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.”[73]

Speculation about O’Malley’s plans was further fueled by his high profile at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, where he received a primetime speaking slot on the second night of the convention 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.[74] O’Malley’s prominence at the convention generated both support for, and criticism of his record. U.S. Senator Ben Cardin and Howard CountyExecutive Ken Ulman praised his speech, with Ulman saying, “To borrow a catchphrase from his address, his career is moving forward, not back.”[74]

2016 presidential campaign[edit]

O’Malley publicly expressed interest in a presidential run in 2016 on multiple occasions. At a press conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at a National Governors Association meeting in August 2013, O’Malley stated he was laying “the framework” for a presidential run.[75][76][77][78] In April 2015, he said that he expected to make a decision on the race by the end of May 2015.[79]

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.[80]

On May 30, 2015, O’Malley formally announced his candidacy for the 2016 presidential nomination.[2]

Personal life[edit]

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’s, J. Joseph Curran, Jr., campaign for Attorney General of Maryland. They were married in 1990 and are the parents of four children, Grace, Tara, William, and Jack.[81] 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.[82]

O’Malley has been called the “Rock ‘n’ Roll Governor” for his membership in the Celtic Rock Band “O’Malley’s March” since 1988. He plays the banjo and guitar and sings.[83]

In other media[edit]

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.[84][85] Writing in Baltimore Magazine several years after the show had concluded, Simon did reveal the nature of 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 ability to continue to shoot in Baltimore.[86]

O’Malley appeared in the film Ladder 49 as himself. The History Channel‘s documentary First Invasion: The War of 1812 featured O’Malley in a segment regarding the British attack on Baltimore in 1814.[87]

O’Malley is a musician and was active in several bands and as a solo act in the Washington and Baltimore areas starting in the early 1980s. He has been the vocalist/guitarist/songwriter of the Celtic rock band “O’Malley’s March” since 1988.[88]

Electoral history[edit]

Mayor of Baltimore
Baltimore City Democratic mayoral primary, 1999[89]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Martin O’Malley 62,711 53.2 +25.5
Democratic Carl Stokes 32,609 27.7 −25.5
Democratic Lawrence Bell 20,034 17.0 −36.2
Democratic Other 2,444 2.1 N/A
Baltimore City mayoral general election, 1999[89]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Martin O’Malley 87,607 90.5 +81
Republican David F. Tufaro 9,207 9.5 −81
Governor of Maryland
Maryland gubernatorial election, 2006[42]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Martin O’Malley 942,279 52.7 +5.0
Republican Robert Ehrlich (incumbent) 825,464 46.2 −5.4
Maryland gubernatorial election, 2010[90]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Martin O’Malley (incumbent) 1,044,961 56.2 +3.5
Republican Robert Ehrlich 776,319 41.8 −4.4

See also