The O'Malley Boomlet Makes No Sense
Why would Catherine Curran O'Malley leave her job to do this?
Ever since Attorney General Brian Frosh announced his retirement, that has been quite a boomlet surrounding the potential candidacy of Judge Catherine Curran O’Malley. News media have pushed her potential candidacy, as has the members of O’Malley World.
Judge O’Malley, the wife of former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, makes a lot of sense as a candidate. She has a strong resume as a District Court judge since 2001 and ten years of service as an Assistant State's Attorney for Baltimore County prior to that. O’Malley is a female candidate and would be running for an office to which no woman has been elected. And she has two of the more famous last names in Maryland politics, giving her strong name recognition.
But at the same time, her candidacy makes no sense and there is no reason for her to run for Attorney General.
The most glaring reason for O’Malley not to run is the fact that she was just recently re-appointed as a District Court judge. Judges on the District Court serve for ten years, and she was just reappointed to her post. It makes no sense for O’Malley to resign from the judgeship she was just re-appointed to in order to mount a tough primary election campaign for AG.
The second reason is that primary. Though open seat races for Attorney General are rare, Democratic primaries in those years are hotly contested. O’Malley’s father, then Lt. Governor Joe Curran, defeated four other candidates in the 1986 Democratic primary. In 2006, then Montgomery County State’s Attorney Doug Gansler won a 10-point victory over Stuart Simms; in that race, Tom Perez filed to run but was disqualified. And in 2014, then-State Senator Frosh defeated Delegate Jon Cardin and now-Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy. Many other potential candidates have already emerged, including Congressman Anthony Brown, State Senator William Smith, Delegate Jon Cardin, and others. If O’Malley runs, she will likely not have the primary field to herself.
Finally, there comes the issue of her name. Whether it’s fair or not, the name O’Malley is not going to help Judge O’Malley in a primary as much as it might have ten years ago. Maryland has largely moved on from the O’Malley’s, not just among Independents and Republicans, but also among Democrats. The Democratic Party has moved far to the left of where the Martin O’Malley Democratic Party was during his administration. O’Malley is seen as member of the “establishment” and the radical progressives that make up the Democratic base will likely find somebody else to vote for.
Judge Katie O’Malley is a very qualified candidate to run for Attorney General, even if I would never vote for her. But it still makes little sense to give up her Judgeship to run for Attorney General in this environment.