The Baltimore Sun's Open Letter To Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley: 'Please Don't Run For President'

The Baltimore Sun ran a memo to Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley (D) Monday morning, urging him not to run for president in 2016. O'Malley is considered a likely and favorable candidate for the next presidential election's Democratic nominee. However, Sun op-ed columnist Susan Reimer argues, "There are better ways to do good in the world than to grub for campaign cash and votes."

O'Malley, whose administration has been credited with "accomplishing more in one year than most administrations accomplish in four," has said he will take the rest of the year to decide whether or not to run for president.

During this time, O'Malley will read and write, spend time with his children, and contemplate whether he truly has something to offer to the presidency. Or, as he put it earlier this month to reporters at the National Governors Association meeting in Milwaukee, "Just doing that important work that a human being has to do to be centered and present and make a rational decision on something this big. And to do it for the right reasons and in the right way."

Reimer, however, cautions him against seeking the presidency for a whole host of reasons.

Does he really want to have angry tea partiers talking about his wife's appearance or complaining that his children go to private schools or about the family's dog, the family's choice of vacation spots, or how his children don't deserve the expense of federal protection?
His opponents will ridicule his Catholic faith, just as they did Rick Santorum's. They will force him to twist his, I am thinking, dearly held social conscience into something that looks like the double helix until he doesn't know what he believes anymore and neither do we. And he will have to grub for money in the most unseemly ways.
... Running for president is a soul-destroying power trip. Martin O'Malley can do better.

Her views are, in some instances, extreme. "I have come to believe that if you are running for president, you don't deserve my vote and you are not worthy of the job," Reimer writes. "The 2012 presidential campaign, and especially the Republican primary debates, were so odious that I came away thinking that we should do this the way the Catholic cardinals elect a pope: If you actively campaign for the job, you won't be elected. Your ambition makes you unclean."

Okay, so "extreme" might be putting it lightly. However, Reimer's memo does contribute to an intriguing discourse: Is seeking federal office still the best way for individuals to affect positive change?

O'Malley grew up learning about the importance of public service from his parents, Tom and Barbara O'Malley. It is instruction he has put into practice throughout his career, beginning when he directed field operations for rockstar Senator Barbara Mikulski's campaign (D-MD) in 1986 while also attending the University of Maryland School of Law.

After serving as a legislative fellow in Mikulski's office, O'Malley redirected his attention to state government, becoming the assistant State Attorney of Baltimore in 1988. In 1991, he was elected to the Baltimore City Council and served as a Councilor until 1999. After that, he was elected as Mayor of Baltimore, serving from 1999 to 2007. O'Malley was elected as Governor of Maryland in 2006 and has served as governor since 2007.

O'Malley has had a stunning career as Maryland's governor, making major strides on education, crime, jobs, marriage equality, and the state's budget. Not only has Maryland's public school system been ranked number one in America for four years running, O'Malley's four-year freeze on in-state tuition at Maryland's public colleges and universities has made college tuition more affordable.

Furthermore, O'Malley has cut spending more than any previous Maryland governor and implemented public safety policies that have helped drive violent crime and homicides rates to a 35-year low in Maryland. He signed same-sex marriage into law in 2012 — and wrote an awesome article for the Huffington Post on his reasons for doing so.

O'Malley has accomplished a record-breaking amount as Maryland's governor, which begs an important question. Would O'Malley be able to do the same in the White House?

"Washington is tied in knots by Republican-led hyperpartisanship, lobbyists and budget constraints," Thomas Friedman wrote in a recent New York Times op-ed. Friendman argues that the next generation is going to grow up wanting to be mayor, not president. "...The new growth model, which the most successful cities are practicing, focuses on creating networks that combine skilled laborers and knowledge workers, with universities and technical schools, with quality infrastructure and high-speed Internet, to do manufacturing, innovation, technology development and advanced services — with an eye to exporting all of them. That’s how we build a 21st-century middle class."

Friedman is dismissive of the effectiveness of most state legislatures, but the point he makes about the productivity and innovation of mayors and cities certainly holds true of Governor O'Malley and the state of Maryland. Which makes one think, if O'Malley can affect such monumental change in his state, maybe the man who has been labeled "arguably the best manager working in government today" would be able to bring his brand of ingenuity to the presidency.

Or perhaps he too would be hindered by Washington's polarizing partisan politics, and the potential for continuing great change, albeit on a smaller scale, would be mislaid for at least four years.