For­mer Mary­land Gover­nor Martin O’Mal­ley en­ters 2016 Demo­cratic race


For­mer Mary­land Gov. Martin O’Mal­ley en­tered the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial race on Satur­day in a long­shot chal­lenge to Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton for the party’s 2016 nom­i­na­tion, cast­ing him­self as a new gen­er­a­tion leader who would rebuild the econ­omy and re­form Wall Street.

“I’m run­ning for you,” he told a crowd of about 1,000 peo­ple in a pop­ulist mes­sage at Fed­eral Hill Park in Bal­ti­more, where he served as mayor be­fore two terms as gover­nor. O’Mal­ley said was drawn into the cam­paign “to rebuild the truth of the Amer­i­can dream for all Amer­i­cans.”

Fol­low­ing his an­nounce­ment, O’Mal­ley promptly headed to Iowa, where he is seek­ing to be­come the pri­mary al­ter­na­tive to Clin­ton. Be­fore more than 50 peo­ple at a union hall in Daven­port, he touted his ex­ec­u­tive ex­pe­ri­ence and called for eco­nomic re­forms, drawing en­thu­si­as­tic ap­plause.

“We are still in just as grave a dan­ger of hav­ing Wall Street ex­cesses wreck our econ­omy again and there’s not a need for it. When wealth con­cen­trates as it has, it also con­cen­trates and col­lects power and we have to re­take con­trol of our own gov­ern­ment,” said O’Mal­ley, who has made fre­quent vis­its in re­cent months to Iowa whose cau­cuses lead off the state-by-state nom­i­nat­ing con­tests.

O’Mal­ley will ap­pear Sun­day in New Hamp­shire, which tra­di­tion­ally holds the first pri­mary elec­tion in the nom­i­nat­ing con­test.

O’Mal­ley has made fre­quent vis­its in re­cent months to both early vot­ing states. Still, he re- mains largely un­known in a field dom­i­nated by Clin­ton.

An ally of for­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton, O’Mal­ley was the sec­ond gover­nor to en­dorse Hil­lary Clin­ton’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign in 2007. But he says Democrats de­serve a choice in the 2016 pri­mary.

“The pres­i­dency is not a crown to be passed back and forth ... be­tween two royal fam­i­lies,” O’Mal­ley said. “It is a sa­cred trust to be earned from the peo­ple of the United States, and ex­er­cised on be­half of the peo­ple of the United States.”

He pointed to re­cent news re­ports that Gold­man Sachs CEO Lloyd Blank­fein would be “fine” with ei­ther Clin­ton or for­mer Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a lead­ing Repub­li­can con­tender and the son and brother of pres­i­dents, in the White House.

It was a force­ful mes­sage that O’Mal­ley will fo­cus on over­haul­ing the fi­nan­cial sys­tem, a pri­or­ity for lib­er­als op­posed to the bailouts of Wall Street banks.

Aides said O’Mal­ley called Hil­lary Clin­ton on Fri­day to tell her he was run­ning. By Satur­day af­ter­noon, Clin­ton had tweeted, “Wel­come to the race, Gov. O’Mal­ley. Look­ing for­ward to dis­cussing strong fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties.”

The 52-year-old O’Mal­ley has spo­ken of­ten about the eco­nomic chal­lenges fac­ing the U.S. and said he would bring new lead­er­ship, pro­gres­sive val­ues and the abil­ity to ac­com­plish things.

O’Mal­ley has pre­sented him­self to vot­ers as a next-gen­er­a­tion leader for the party, point­ing to his record as gover­nor on is­sues such as gay mar­riage, im­mi­gra­tion, eco­nomic is­sues and the death penalty.

Just weeks ago, ri­ots in Bal­ti­more broke out fol­low­ing the death of Fred­die Gray, an AfricanAmer­i­can man who died in po­lice cus­tody fol­low­ing his ar­rest last month.

A few demon­stra­tors gath­ered near Fed­eral Hill Park to protest O’Mal­ley’s crim­i­nal jus­tice poli­cies as mayor, an of­fice he held from 1999 un­til his elec­tion as gover­nor in 2006. “He’s claim­ing to be this sav­ior of Bal­ti­more, but he’s not,” said Duane Davis, who said he is home­less.

O’Mal­ley was known for his tough-on-crime, “zero tol­er­ance” poli­cies that led to large num­bers of ar­rests for mi­nor of­fenses. Crit­ics say it sowed dis­trust be­tween po­lice and the black com­mu­nity. Sup­port­ers note the over­all de­crease in vi­o­lent crime dur­ing his ten­ure.

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