by Mitch Perry
Even if Hillary Clinton announces that she will be a candidate for the 2016 Democratic Party nomination for president, there will be other Democrats undeterred (and perhaps slightly mad) to challenge her.
A similar sentiment was made at this time eight years ago, and by the end of 2006 we knew who that main challenger would be - Barack Obama. But who will be that Democrat who can present a serious challenge to Mrs. Clinton if she decides to go for it?
The question was posed on Sunday to one of those Democrats who people talk about when talk about potential rivals, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley.
"I think the most important question for any of us who feel that we have something to offer for our country's future is to offer those ideas, and to put those ideas out there, and most importantly, to ask the right questions," O'Malley told Bob Schieffer on CBS' Face The Nation.
Which would be?
"What will it take to make sure that our middle-class is growing again so we can grow our economy?," he said.
Sounds like he's thinking seriously about it, though he obviously danced a bit there when a simple "yes" or "no" would have sufficed.
Who is Martin O'Malley, you might asking? Only 51 and term-limited as governor of Maryland at the end of this year, O'Malley will be departing with Maryland's economy (like the nation) beginning to improve (unemployment is now at 6.1 percent, the lowest in five years). His unique set of talents were honored last year when one D.C. publication labeled him as being "the best manager in government today."
A former mayor of Baltimore, O'Malley has a resume that should impress Democratic primary voters, as the Washington Monthly documented last year:
As governor, he’s pushed a series of bills that are all but guaranteed to impress Democratic primary and caucus voters three years from now, on topics ranging from guns (against), gay marriage (for), the death penalty (against), medical marijuana (for), and implementing Dream Act-like policies at Maryland’s colleges and universities. Just as Bill Clinton did in the 1980s, when he too was a relative unknown, O’Malley has also sought positions in recent years that have allowed him to sidle into the national limelight. In both 2011 and 2012, he served as chair of the Democratic Governors Association, and he’s since stayed on as the finance chairman, which will allow him to continue to meet top donors. During the election last year, he was a regular fixture on the talk show circuit, often playing the role of President Barack Obama’s personal attack dog. In one interview with ABC’s This Week last summer, O’Malley managed to mention former Governor Mitt Romney’s “Swiss bank accounts” and “offshore” tax havens seventeen times in three minutes flat.
But let's be frank, folks. Not only would O'Malley be a major underdog against Clinton, but also gets crushed in name recognition next to the next most famous Democrat who may have 2016 aspirations - Vice President Joe Biden.
According to a Washington Post poll taken this weekend, O'Malley is the choice of just of just 6 percent of voters in his own home state of Maryland. That's compared to Clinton's 72 percent ratings and Biden's 9 percent standing.
He also would be severely vulnerable to charges that he's just another tax-and-spend liberal. The Post reports that over the past seven years under O'Malley, Maryland has raised income taxes on high earners, the corporate income tax, the sales tax, the gas tax, the alcohol tax and the tobacco tax.
Other Democrats (especially considered to Clinton's left) who may be considering a run include Andrew Cuomo, Amy Klobuchar, Brian Schweitzer, Jerry Brown and Elizabeth Warren, though the latter two have both said publicly that they have no intention of entering the contest.