This year, he’s advancing his credentials as a progressive by pushing some of the nation’s toughest gun-control measures, a repeal of the death penalty and incentives for an offshore wind farm.
O’Malley’s political advisers say they are focused on crafting his legacy as governor and preparing him for whatever he may do next, whether it’s seeking a federal Cabinet post, running in another campaign or trying something unforeseen. They rarely talk about 2016.
“It would be crazy for it not to be in the back of people’s heads, but it’s not something that’s explicitly discussed,” said one adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be able to freely talk about the governor.
That O’Malley is not a household name beyond Maryland is not a concern at this point, his advisers say. Once his term ends in January 2015, he could camp out in Iowa for a year if he decides to run.
But his future may not be his to dictate. If Clinton campaigns for the presidency, for example, O’Malley’s aides said the governor probably would stay out, in part because of her prominence but also because of his loyalty to her. During an appearance on “CBS This Morning,” O’Malley praised Clinton as a “very impressive person” who “would make an outstanding president.”
Republican strategists view O’Malley as little known and untested on the national stage, and a recent WMUR Granite State poll — yes, there’s polling even now — appeared to prove the point. O’Malley was the favorite of less than 1 percent of likely Democratic voters in New Hampshire in 2016.
Clinton? Sixty-three percent.
Still, Republicans seethe over the governor’s brittle attacks, such as when he derided Christie as a “colorful character” who lives in a “make-believe world.”