Politics

5 Things You Need To Know About Martin O’Malley

CREDIT: AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) is scheduled to announce on Saturday at an event in Baltimore, the city he led as mayor for six years, that he is running for the Democratic nomination for president.

O’Malley, who chaired the Democratic Governors’ Association for two years, has tried to establish himself as a more progressive alternative to likely frontrunner Hillary Clinton. While some of the policies he supported as mayor of Baltimore have since drawn scrutiny, his time as leader of Maryland was marked by a series of accomplishments that helped workers, immigrants and others in Maryland get ahead.

Here are five boldly liberal policies O’Malley has pushed during his time as governor:

Ended the death penalty in Maryland: As governor, O’Malley signed legislation in 2013 making Maryland the sixth state to abolish capital punishment. A year later, he commuted the sentences of the four remaining inmates on Maryland’s death row. He remains a opposed to the death penalty, saying in a statement after a federal jury convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death that “the death penalty is ineffective as a deterrent.”

Raised the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour: O’Malley has said while campaigning that he supports raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. One of his last major policy achievements during his final year as governor was signing legislation that would increase Maryland’s minimum wage to $10.10 by 2018. “It is not fair, it is not right, it is not just that people should play by the rules, work 16-hour days and still be raising their children in poverty,” O’Malley said at the ceremony when he signed the law.

Legalized gay marriage: In 2012, O’Malley signed a bill legalizing same sex marriage in Maryland, joining seven other states in enacting marriage equality. The law survived a statewide referendum held later that year, which marked the first time marriage rights in the U.S. were extended to same-sex couples by a popular vote. O’Malley has continued to be vocal about the importance of marriage equality as he has geared up for his campaign. “The dignity of every person tells us that the right to marry is not a state right, it is a human right,” he said at a Democratic event in April.

Implemented stricter gun control laws: After pushing it through the state assembly, O’Malley signed a sweeping gun control measure requiring handgun buyers to submit fingerprints and obtain a license, banning 45 types of assault weapons, limiting gun magazines to ten bullets and banning gun ownership by people who have been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility. O’Malley’s package was considered one of the most progressive proposals in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting. The National Rifle Association vowed to fight the legislation, but their petition to halt its implementation ultimately failed.

Gave in-state tuition to the children of immigrants: Despite staunch opposition, O’Malley signed legislation as governor extending in-state tuition breaks to undocumented immigrants at Maryland’s colleges and universities. And two years later, he signed a law expanding the ability of illegal immigrants to get a driver’s license. He has also supported President Obama’s executive action on immigration and has gone even farther, saying the U.S. should not send unaccompanied minors who cross the southern border back to their home countries. “When refugee children arrive on our doorstop fleeing starvation and death gangs, we don’t turn them away — we act like the generous, compassionate people we have always been,” O’Malley told a group of Iowa Democrats last month.

O’Malley is already using his accomplishments in Maryland to shape his national campaign platform. In an interview with NPR in April, he discussed the economic policies including how he will aggressively take on big banks. “We have concentrated wealth and capital to such a degree that the vast majority of us don’t have the discretionary dollars to make our economy go and grow,” he said.

O’Malley has also called for reforming Wall Street by reinstating the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act that kept commercial banks separate from investment banks. In an op-ed in the Des Moines Register, he listed fundamental reforms he supports including replacing the leadership at banks that are repeat offenders, appointing people to government who will prosecute the banking offenders and making banks “bear the full weight of financial penalties,” among others.

And in the same NPR interview, O’Malley called on Congress to lower the interest rate on student loans and said he opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership because it would hurt the middle class. He also more explicitly pointed out some of the differences between himself and Clinton, saying that Clinton “said until very recently that marriage equality was a state right” and that she is just now coming around to supporting drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants.