O’Malley and the P-Word

As I’ve noted a couple of times here, Martin O’Malley’s “lane” in a probable primary challenge to Hillary Clinton is obviously to her left, which is not necessarily where he’s been for a large part of his political career. But supply seems to be meeting demand a bit, at least in Davenport, Iowa, according to this report from the Iowa Daily Democrat with a headline that probably cheered Team O’Malley: “Progressive Candidate for President Woos Davenport Activists.”

After a five-month absence since he last visited Iowa, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley gave hope and inspiration to a crowd of around 300 people at the Scott County Democrats’ “Red, White, and Blue” Banquet Friday night in Davenport, Iowa. He reminded the gathering: “As Americans, we have faced highs and lows in our country, but it isn’t how low we have gone but how high we bounce back,” he said to rousing applause….

He delivered on the progressive agenda as governor and he did the same to Iowa Democratic activists. “We can also keep the dream alive by never allowing another Wall Street economic meltdown by reinstating Glass-Steagall and punishing those that break the law.” The crowd enthusiastically replied with thunderous applause and a standing ovation.

And get this:

O’Malley found favor in Democrats looking for a fresh, more progressive voice to lead the party in 2016. “We don’t need a candidate with baggage—hers and his,” said one attendee, referring to Hillary Clinton. “And we can’t afford a candidate that has more loyalty to corporate America than the American people,” she added.

That’s exactly what O’Malley cannot explicitly say, but he needs Democrats to implicitly “hear.”

Now as you should know by now if you read this blog, Iowa Democrats, for all their virtues, do not always speak in good faith on the subject of Hillary Clinton. Many of those cheering O’Malley’s understated digs at HRC were actually cheering the prospect of a competitive nominating process that will bring money and attention to Iowa like spring rain. Some may turn out to be entirely “ready for Hillary” when the deal goes down, and could ultimately break Martin O’Malley’s heart. But even as he tries to make them hear things he’s not actually quite saying about the overwhelming front-runner, they’re trying to make him hear support he may not have in order to lure him into an open and candidacy. We’ll soon see if all these voices find echoes.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.