Former Maryland governor and 2016 Democratic presidential contender Martin O’Malley is opting against another run in 2020 — and he’s throwing his weight behind Beto O’Rourke.
Writing in the Des Moines Register on Thursday, O’Malley made the case for an O’Rourke candidacy by illustrating what he views as a desire for new leadership in America.
“People are looking for a new leader who can bring us together,” he wrote. “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 pointed to November’s midterm results as evidence, highlighting the candidacy of Rep.-elect Lucy McBath (D-Ga.) as an example. Inspired to run for office after losing her son to gun violence, McBath flipped Georgia’s 6th Congressional District.
The former governor also pointed to the Oklahoma state Senate candidacy of Allison Ikley-Freeman, who successfully flipped a district Trump had carried in 2016 by over 40 points.
“They spoke to the goodness within us as a people,” O’Malley explained. “And they spoke with a fearlessness about the future we can build together.”
O’Malley was one of just three candidates who lasted into the 2016 Democratic primary process, but he was far outmatched by Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. After receiving less than 1 percent of the vote in the Iowa caucus, O’Malley ended his bid for the presidency.
With the 2020 race fast approaching, O’Malley is opting against giving his own presidential ambitions a shot, but he sees promise in the as-of-yet undecided O’Rourke.
O’Malley gave strong praise for O’Rourke’s failed bid to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in 2018:
“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.”
In explaining his support for O’Rourke, O’Malley emphasizes the young age and border state roots of the outgoing Texas congressman.
“Like so many other Americans, I believe we need new leadership to make that future a reality,” O’Malley said. “And, I believe the new leader who can best bring us together and turn us around to create that better American future, is Beto O’Rourke.”