Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley jumps into 2016 Democratic race

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley waves as he arrives with his wife Katie O'Malley to an event to announce that he is entering the Democratic presidential race, on Saturday, May 30, 2015, in Baltimore.

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley waves as he arrives with his wife Katie O'Malley to an event to announce that he is entering the Democratic presidential race, on Saturday, May 30, 2015, in Baltimore. Evan Vucci, AP

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley waves as he arrives with his wife Katie O'Malley to an event to announce that he is entering the Democratic presidential race, on Saturday, May 30, 2015, in Baltimore.Evan Vucci, AP

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley waves as he arrives with his wife Katie O’Malley to an event to announce that he is entering the Democratic presidential race, on Saturday, May 30, 2015, in Baltimore.

BALTIMORE — Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley on Saturday joined the Democratic presidential race with a longshot challenge to Hillary Rodham Clinton for the 2016 nomination.

“I’m running for you,” he told a crowd of about 1,000 people at Federal Hill Park in Baltimore, where he served as mayor before two terms as governor.

He said “the urgent work” drawing him into the campaign was “to rebuild the truth of the American dream for all Americans.”

O’Malley has made frequent visits in recent months to early-voting Iowa, where he was headed later Saturday, and New Hampshire, his destination Sunday. Still, he remains largely unknown in a field dominated by Clinton.

“My decision is made. Now you will all have a vital choice to make next year, for the good of your families, and for the good of the country you love and carry in your hearts.”

Already in the race is Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who could be O’Malley’s main rival for the support of the Democratic left.

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.”

A leading Republican contender is former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, son and brother of presidents.

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

“Our economic and political system is upside down and backward and it is time to turn it around,” he told the crowd.

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 African-American man who died in police custody following his arrest last month.

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