Martin O'Malley

Martin Joseph O'Malley (born January 18 1963) is an American Democratic politician who is currently serving as the 61st Governor of Maryland. Previously, he served as the mayor of Baltimore City from 1999 to 2007.

Political development

O'Malley attended Gonzaga College High School and then attended college at The Catholic University of America, graduating in 1985. Later that year he enrolled at the University of Maryland School of Law in Baltimore, earning his JD in 1988 and passing the bar that same year.

In December 1982, while still in college, O'Malley signed on with the Gary Hart presidential campaign for the 1984 election. In late 1983, he volunteered to go to Iowa. He phone-banked, organized volunteers, and even played guitar and sang at small fundraisers and other events.

In 1986, while in law school, O'Malley was named by then-Congresswoman Barbara Mikulski as her state field director for her successful primary and general election campaigns for the U.S. Senate. Later he served as a legislative fellow in Senator Mikulski’s office from 1987-1988.

In 1988, he began dating his future wife, Catherine Curran, the daughter of the State's Attorney General. Later that year, O’Malley was hired as an Assistant State's Attorney for the City of Baltimore. He would hold that position until 1990.

In 1990, O'Malley, ran for the Maryland State Senate in District 43. He lost the Democratic Primary to John A. Pica Jr. by 44 votes. A year later he ran for a vacant Baltimore City Council seat to represent the 3rd District. He served from 1991 to 1999. As Councilman, he served as Chairman of the Legislative Investigations Committee and Chairman of the Taxation and Finance Committee.

Mayor of Baltimore

O'Malley announced his campaign for Mayor of Baltimore in 1999. He won the Democratic Primary with over 50% of the vote. He was then elected Mayor of Baltimore in the General election with over 90% of the vote. In 2004, O'Malley was re-elected in the general election with 88% of the vote, defeating Republican challenger Elbert (Ray) Henderson.

In O'Malley's first year in office, he adopted a statistics-based tracking system first modeled after Compstat, which was employed by former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani to assist the New York City Police Department. O'Malley broadened this results driven model across all government services. The program shifted Baltimore’s way of “doing government” from an antiquated patronage-based system to a performance-based system that zeroes in on areas of under-performance, using computerized databases to track targets and results. There is a weekly meeting in which city department managers meet with the Mayor’s office and discuss their office's results. The power of information technology has been harnessed to manage the complexities of modern urban systems and procedures. CitiStat has saved Baltimore residents more than $350 million. Among its many accolades, in 2004, O'Malley's CitiStat accountability tool won Harvard University’s prestigious Innovations in American Government award. Its success has garnered the attention of delegations from places like England, India, Texas, and many others..

Upon leaving office, "the City... had a $38 million budget surplus – the largest in Baltimore’s history – and a 5 year, $75 million tax cut which has reduced property taxes to a 30 year low.

During the first Mayoral campaign, O’Malley’s made improving public safety a priority. By the end of his second term, Baltimore experienced "nearly a 40% reduction in violent crime, which [led] the nation”. In 2006, Baltimore was ranked the twelfth most dangerous city in the United States; however, this ranking represents a substantial improvement from the previous year, when it was ranked the sixth most dangerous city.

In 2005, Baltimore’s reported homicide rate was five times that of New York City, which had one of the lowest crime rates of America's largest cities. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Unified Crime Reports for 2000 and 2003, violent crimes (homicide, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault) in Baltimore declined from 16,003 in 2000 (O'Malley's first year in office) to 13,789 in 2003. In terms of homicides, there were 261 in 2000; 256 in 2001; 253 in 2002; and 270 in 2003. More recently, there were 276 homicides in 2004 and 269 in 2005.

The latest police statistics for 2008, according to the Baltimore Sun, show that "shootings are down by 26 percent over last year, from 361 to 266... Meanwhile, rates of other violent crimes, including assaults, rapes and robberies, has not changed much since 2007..."


Some have questioned the crime statistics released by the O'Malley administration since they differ with official FBI crime reports. They claim that crime in Baltimore is seriously underreported. The Washington Post, however, characterizes these accusations as coming from "O'Malley's political foes Democrat and Republican alike" and says that "[t]o date, no evidence has surfaced of a systemic manipulation of crime statistics.

O'Malley lauds many of his achievements in the Baltimore City Public School System, stating that his administration has greatly improved schools and that they “are on the mend for the first time in decades.” As one of his five most prominent achievements, O'Malley claims that his administration “improved student test scores across the board” while noting that much work remains. A national study on the graduation rates in the nation's 50 biggest cities found Baltimore to be second to last with respect to dropout rates (with Detroit in last place).. As the city school system is independently controlled by a board jointly appointed by the mayor and the governor of Maryland, a structure adopted in 1997 as part of litigation in the Federal court system, no single political leader or single level of government (city or state) has responsibility for or authority over the city schools, and it is difficult to hold specific elected officials responsible for either the successes or failures of the city school system.

In 1987, O'Malley was arrested for driving while under the influence in Montgomery County. He was later found not guilty. In October 2006, during O'Malley's campaign for the office of Governor of Maryland, the arrest became public for the first time when it was reported by the Baltimore Sun. O'Malley was then asked by the reporters if he had disclosed the arrest to the bar examiners on his character questionnaire. O'Malley said that he did not remember. The Clerk of the Court of Appeals of Maryland has custody of the bar applications of all Maryland lawyers who in the past were admitted to practice in the state by the Court of Appeals. O'Malley declined to authorize the Clerk of the Court of Appeals to release his 1988 file.

Later, the Maryland State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, an organization that had endorsed O'Malley's gubernatorial opponent, Robert Ehrlich, issued a statement 10 days before the election demanding to see a copy of the his 1988 application.

Major land developer Edward St. John was fined $55,000 by the independent Maryland Office of the State Prosecutor. The Washington Times reported that following Mr. St. John's illegal campaign contributions to the Martin O'Malley campaign, the Governor and noted Administration officials posed for a photo-op at a new $28 million highway interchange leading to St. John's property. Governor O'Malley's spokesman said there was no "quid pro quo." To date Governor O'Malley has refused to return St. John's illegal campaign contributions.

The "MD4Bush" incident

In early 2005 Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich fired an aide, Joseph Steffen, for spreading false rumors of marital infidelity about O'Malley on the Internet. O'Malley and his wife had previously held a highly publicized press conference to deny the rumors and accuse Republicans of partisan politics. The discussions in which Steffen posted the rumors were initiated by an anonymous user going by the name "MD4Bush," later revealed to be Maryland Democratic Party official Ryan O'Doherty.

Media attention

In 2002, Esquire magazine named O’Malley “The Best Young Mayor in the Country,” and in 2005, TIME magazine named him one of America’s “Top 5 Big City Mayors”. In August 2005, Business Week Magazine Online named O'Malley as one of five "New Faces" in the Democratic Party. Business Week said that O'Malley "has become the Party's go-to guy on protecting the homeland. The telegenic mayor has developed a detailed plan for rail and port safety and has been an outspoken critic of White House security priorities.

Homeland security

In 2003, national Democratic leaders asked him to give the Democratic Response to the President’s weekly radio address in which he spoke about Homeland Security.

During the 2004 presidential campaign, Sen. John Kerry invited O'Malley to speak on the topic in Wisconsin. In 2004, O'Malley was one of the featured speakers at the Democratic National Convention in the FleetCenter in Boston, Massachusetts. In his speech, he focused on Homeland Security stating “Sadly and unforgivably almost three years after that fateful day when thousands of moms and dads, sons and daughters didn’t come from work on September 11th, America’s cities and towns, America’s ports and borders and America’s heartland remain needlessly vulnerable”. As the only mayor to speak at the Democratic National Convention, O'Malley demonstrated why he was called a "rising star” in the Democratic Party.

In August 2005, O'Malley was invited to speak to the National Press Club to give a mayoral perspective on homeland security issues. Again he criticized the Bush Administration, stating, "In Washington today, the traditional strong defense values of the party of Abraham Lincoln are found only in the words carved on the cold walls of his memorial." O'Malley also stated that increased Homeland Security funding supported the "values of our republic – what former Senator Gary Hart would call 'the Fourth Power' – the moral exponent of our military, economic, and diplomatic powers".

Governor of Maryland

2006 gubernatorial elections

O'Malley was nominated by the Democratic Party to challenge incumbent Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich in the November 2006 election. O'Malley featured the news article “Running early, running hard" on his new web site, launched June 2005. It states, "O'Malley has yet to officially announce his run for governor, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been busy on the campaign trail."

O'Malley selected Anthony G. Brown, Delegate from Prince George's County, lawyer, and Iraq War veteran, as his running mate. O'Malley was expected to face Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan in the Democratic primary. However, Duncan dropped out of the race on June 22, 2006, citing clinical depression.

Friends of O'Malley also have speculated that he could be a presidential candidate in 2012.

O'Malley defeated incumbent Gov. Ehrlich in the November 7, 2006, gubernatorial election by a 6.5% margin. He was the only candidate to defeat a sitting governor in 2006.

Term as Governor

O'Malley was sworn in as Governor on January 17, 2007. The Maryland Constitution required that he submit the budget proposal, developed jointly by the incoming and outgoing administrations, for the coming fiscal year two days later.

For the last two years, the administration cites among its accomplishments:

  • Reducing spending by $1.9 billion and eliminating 736 state positions to close an inherited $1.7 billion structural deficit
  • Proposing two consecutive budgets under the Maryland General Assembly’s spending affordability guidelines
  • Working to repeal the $200 million computer services sales tax
  • Passing the nation's first statewide living wage law
  • Closing the Maryland House of Correction in Jessup, Maryland, an old and notoriously violent maximum-security prison facility..
  • Expanding health care access to 100,000 low and moderate-income Marylanders
  • Closing the Medicaid loop-hole that left certain seniors without prescription drug coverage
  • Passing a foreclosure reform package and ending the creation of new grount rents
  • Funding fully Program Open Space, recreating the Office of Smart Growth, and creating the Chesapeake Bay 2010 Trust Fund
  • Eliminating a backlog of DNA samples that were left un-analyzed and expanding the database
  • Freezing college tuition for the third year in a row and providing $5.3 billion for kindergarten through 12 education, including $741 million for school construction

As fill-in for Hillary Rodham Clinton during a Democratic convention on June 2 2007 in New Hampshire, O'Malley expanded "his exposure among the party elite and activists.

Based on a Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of registered voters, O'Malley's approval rating dipped to 33% in January 2008, down from 52% in March 2007.

The State of Maryland worked to address its significant fiscal challenges after Governor Martin O'Malley called a Special Session in November, 2007 to close a structural budget deficit of $1.7 billion. A structural deficit is different that an actual deficit because it is based on out year projected data. In response to this projected deficit for 2008-2009, O'Malley and some Democratic Maryland lawmakers have passed and signed tax increases. The Administration provided evidence that 83% of Maryland taxpayers would not pay higher taxes under their originally proposed plan. The plan would raise total state tax collections 14%. A Maryland Senate panel modified the tax proposal, removing "tax breaks for middle- and working-class families.

In years past, slot machine gambling has been a heated topic in the General Assembly – both houses in Maryland government. Proponents claim slots could help ease the burden of Maryland's severe structural deficit. O'Malley's predecessor, Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. made slot machine gambling a priority from the beginning of his four-year term. However, associated legislation was not passed. O'Malley has said that he supports the implementation of a limited number of slot machines only at horse racing tracks to help sustain the horse racing industry. He was elected as the Finance Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association for 2008-2009.


O'Malley is the son of Tom and Barbara O'Malley. The late Tom O'Malley served as a Montgomery County based criminal defense lawyer, and an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia from 1957 to 1962, among many other positions. The elder O'Malley, a bombardier in the Army Air Forces in the Pacific theater during the Second World War, claimed to have seen the nuclear mushroom cloud rise over Hiroshima.

Martin O'Malley is married to state district judge Catherine Curran O'Malley (Katie). Martin and Katie first met in 1986 while he was working on now-U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski’s primary and general election campaign; while Katie was working on her father J. Joseph Curran, Jr.’s campaign for Attorney General of Maryland. They began to date in 1988 and were married in 1990 during his first unsuccessful campaign for political office.

They now live in the governor's mansion in Annapolis with their children, Grace, Tara, William, and Jack.

O'Malley’s father-in-law, J. Joseph Curran, Jr., served as Attorney General of Maryland from 1987-2007. Citing his age and his long career, Curran decided not to seek reelection on May 7, 2006, preventing any conflict of interest that might arise in having two close family members at the position of Governor and Attorney General.

In other media

According to the creator of the HBO drama "The Wire", David Simon, the fictional Mayor of Baltimore Tommy Carcetti is "not O'Malley", but O'Malley was one of several inspirations.

O'Malley appeared in the film Ladder 49 as himself, then-mayor of Baltimore.

The History Channel's documentary First Invasion: The War of 1812 featured O'Malley in a segment regarding the British attack on Baltimore in 1814.

O'Malley is a musician. He was active in several bands and solo in the DC and Baltimore areas starting in the early 1980s. He was the vocalist/guitarist/songwriter of Celtic rock band, "O'Malley's March" from 1988 to 2005.

Electoral history



External links

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