Election

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

Martin O'Malley
Martin O’Malley AP

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A few demonstrators gathered near Federal Hill Park to protest O’Malley’s criminal justice policies as mayor, an office he held from 1999 until his election as governor in 2006. “He’s claiming to be this savior of Baltimore, but he’s not,” said Duane Davis, who said he is homeless.

During O’Malley’s speech, there was sporadic shouting from protesters.

O’Malley was known for his tough-on-crime, “zero tolerance” policies that led to large numbers of arrests for minor offenses. Critics say it sowed distrust between police and the black community. Supporters note the overall decrease in violent crime during his tenure.

O’Malley has defended his work to curb crime, saying he helped address rampant violence and drug abuse. He has said the unrest in Baltimore should wake up the nation to the need to address despair in poor communities.

“Last month, television sets around the world were filled with the anger and the rage, and the flames of some of the humblest and hardest hit neighborhoods of Baltimore. For all of us who have given so much of our energies to making our city a safer, fairer, more just and more prosperous place, it was a heartbreaking night in the life of our city,” O’Malley said.

“But there is something to be learned from that night, and there is something to be offered to our country from those flames. For what took place here was not only about race, not only about policing in America. It’s about everything it is supposed to mean to be an American.”

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O’Malley could soon be joined in the Democratic field by former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who plans to make an announcement next week, and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, who is exploring a potential campaign.

Sanders has raised more than $4 million since opening his campaign in late April and sought to build support among liberals in the party who are disillusioned with Clinton.

One of O’Malley’s first tasks as a candidate would be to consolidate support among Democrats who are reluctant to back Clinton and eyeing Sanders.

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