Martin O'Malley Announces He's Running For President & The Democratic Arena Is Finally Heating Up

The competition for the Democratic Party's nomination won't be as cutthroat as the race on the other side of the aisle, but here comes another candidate — finally. On Saturday, Martin O'Malley announced he's running for president in front of a crowd in Baltimore's Federal Hill Park. O'Malley's more left-leaning views could bring interesting competition to front-runner Hillary Clinton and help draw her away from her centrist comfort zone.

Flanked by his wife and children, O'Malley baited the audience as he took the stage: "We have a little announcement we'd like to share with you." But not before he launched into a spirited speech on strengthening the middle class, creating jobs, Wall Street greed and the Baltimore riots. Oh, and he called Bruce Springsteen the poet laureate of the American dream, which was a pretty solid quip.

The newly minted candidate apparently phoned the Democratic front-runner (no, we're not talking about Bernie Sanders) less than 24 hours before his official announcement to let her know he was entering the race. O'Malley and Hillary's phone call was "brief and cordial," according to TIME.

O'Malley may have just announced his candidacy, but he's been laying the groundwork for his run for quite some time. In press appearances, O'Malley has trumpeted his work as governor of Maryland, during which he actively pushed for marriage equality and immigration rights. As governor, O'Malley signed legislation that gave in-state college tuition breaks for undocumented students, as well as driver's licenses for undocumented workers. It was also under O'Malley's watch that same-sex marriage was legalized in Maryland. Before he was governor, O'Malley was mayor of Baltimore from 1997 to 2007.

O'Malley has also shown the fun side of his liberal politics. Known as the "Rock 'n Roll" Democrat, the 52-year-old is the lead singer of a long-running Celtic rock band called O'Malley's March. And who can forget those photos of a shirtless O'Malley at the Maryland Special Olympics' Polar Bear Plunge that made quite the splash online? The man is ripped.

The third Democrat to enter the race, O'Malley joins Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in challenging Clinton for the Democratic Party's nomination. Though he has "tremendous amount of respect" for Clinton, O'Malley hasn't held back on saying he'd make a better president, taking jabs at Clinton for flip-flopping on issues near and dear to his heart. He told The Guardian:

I believe that we are best as a party when we lead with our principles and not according to the polls. Leadership is about making the right decision and the best decision before sometimes it becomes entirely popular.
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

According to Politico, a recent Iowa poll showed O'Malley trailing behind Clinton and Sanders with just 3 percent of the vote. Sanders got 15 percent, and Clinton, of course, led both by nearly 50 points. But the race is still early, and O'Malley brings some mainstream appeal that could make him a fun candidate to watch.

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