By KEN THOMAS
WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley plans to announce his decision on a presidential campaign May 30 in Baltimore, preparing for what would be a longshot bid for the Democratic nomination.
O’Malley would enter the 2016 race as a relatively unknown figure nationally and face a steep test against front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The ex-Baltimore mayor, who has visited early-voting states, has tried to present himself as a champion of progressive causes and a fresh face for liberals hesitant to support Clinton.
O’Malley held multiple conference calls Thursday night with top supporters, former aides and friends to discuss plans for the May 30 announcement. O’Malley did not explicitly say he would run for president but said he was inclined to do so and encouraged participants to tap into their network of contacts to support his campaign if he runs, according to three participants who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the private calls.
During the calls, O’Malley spoke about the economic challenges facing the nation and how he would bring new leadership, progressive values and a record of getting things done, the participants said. Bill Hyers, a senior adviser to O’Malley’s political action committee, O’PAC, and a potential campaign manager, said they were planning to hire staff in the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
The call reinforced what O’Malley has been saying for months — that he would make a final decision by the end of spring.
“My timeline for a while has been by the end of May and that remains my timeline. So stay tuned,” O’Malley told reporters Wednesday in New Hampshire, home of the nation’s first presidential primary. O’Malley’s announcement date was first reported by The Washington Post.
His PAC blasted out an email to supporters on Thursday urging them to sign up on his website to be the first to know about his decision.
Holding the announcement in Baltimore could carry risk.
O’Malley’s record as city leader a decade ago has faced scrutiny since rioting broke out following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody. O’Malley, mayor from 1999 until he was elected governor in 2006, has defended his work to curb violent crime in Baltimore and signaled it would play a leading role in a presidential campaign.
He frequently talks about his record in Maryland: supporting gay marriage and gun control, ending the death penalty, providing in-state college tuition for immigrants living in the U.S. illegally. He has outlined a potential 2016 that would focus on economic inequality, immigration, campaign finance reform and national security.
Already in the race is Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent who has courted liberal voters in the party. Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb also might run. Each of the Democrats looking to challenge Clinton is hoping to become a viable alternative for Democrats who want a competitive primary.
Rather than directly criticize Clinton, the 52-year-old O’Malley has tried to portray himself as a fresh face representing a new generation of leadership.
During an event in Durham, home of the University of New Hampshire, O’Malley was asked what his presidency might offer to the aspirations of women.
O’Malley noted that Democrats helped make history by electing the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama, and he cited his policies in Maryland that he said have been a benefit to women.
While some voters may want to elect the first female president, O’Malley said there is also “a yearning of the next generation of Americans who want a new perspective and … to solve those problems with new leadership and new perspective.”
Follow Ken Thomas on Twitter: www.twitter.com/KThomasDC
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.