If Democrats are pushing gilded names such as Hillary Rodham Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden, Republicans are promoting New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.
But politics is also defined by uncertainty and ever-changing terrain — “Will Hillary run?” may be the question of the moment — leaving potential openings for less prominent candidates such as Maryland’s governor.
Each stage of the process has its own audience. At this point, it’s expected that potential candidates will be familiar — or at least recognizable — to the people who matter: the county party chairmen, the local activists, the insiders who serve as delegates to the national convention.
Whatever the calculus, O’Malley fever is not exactly overtaking the all-important climes of Iowa and New Hampshire, if a thoroughly random survey of Democratic chieftains bears any resemblance to reality.
Yes, there are those who know of O’Malley, that he’s a governor, that he’s well-spoken and even that he plays in a Celtic rock-n-roll band.
But there are those such as Dale Creech, 62, a retired factory worker who is chairman of Iowa’s Dallas County Democratic Party, who are flummoxed by a mention of the governor. “I heard the name,” Creech said, “but off the top of my head, I couldn’t tell you which party he belongs to.”
What has made an impression on Jan Bauer, chairwoman of Story County’s Democratic Party committee in Iowa, is that the O’Malley “has shown interest and that he’s not backing away. I predict we will see much more of Governor O’Malley in the next few years.”
But, she added, “people mention Hillary, and they mention Biden. It’s the high-profile folks who get the chatter right now.”
The governor’s name is not exactly ricocheting around the South, either.