The following is an excerpt from Matt Bai | November 5, 2015 | Yahoo.com |
Martin O'Malley speaks at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Iowa in October. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)
In a little more than a week, Democrats will arrive in Iowa for their second presidential debate. Hillary Clinton will try to solidify her standing as the inevitable nominee. Bernie Sanders will be out to reverse a perceptible slide in the polls.
But the candidate onstage with the most at stake will be Martin O’Malley, the party’s forgotten man.
After toiling away in obscurity for much of the year, barely registering in polls or even in the public consciousness, O’Malley suddenly finds himself — as he likes to put it with his dry wit — in sole possession of third place. “I really feel like the campaign started in earnest 10 days ago, after the first debate,” he said several times, hopefully, as we traveled through New Hampshire this week.
And it does seem to me that O’Malley’s long-awaited opening has finally arrived — if only he can figure out what to do with it.
If Donald Trump has been the year’s most surprising candidate, and Jeb Bush the most disappointing, then O’Malley has been the most enigmatic. A closely watched star in the party as mayor of Baltimore and two-term governor of Maryland, as well as the national spokesman for Democratic governors, O’Malley entered the race as the only executive in the field (excluding Lincoln Chafee, who had only recently switched parties). At 52, he also offered a sharp generational contrast with Clinton and Sanders.
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