CNN — After Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is one of the most talked-about potential candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.
The two-term governor reiterated Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he’s considering the opportunity, but his attention is mostly on his current job.
“Sure, I’ve said I’m thinking about it, but right now I’m primarily focused on what I need to do for the good people of our state,” O’Malley told CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley.
O’Malley’s term finishes up in January 2015, right around the time potential candidates are expected to start making major moves in the runup to the 2016 presidential race.
O’Malley has led initiatives in his state that largely mirror the national Democratic agenda: tougher gun control laws, same-sex marriage legalization, and the passage of the DREAM Act. He’s now looking to increase the minimum wage.
His state has a lower unemployment rate than the national average, and the public education system is ranked at the top in the country. Maryland also started its own health care exchange under Obamacare, though the state’s website got off to a rocky start with serious technical problems.
But O’Malley still lags behind in name identification. A CNN/ORC International Poll from November indicated only 2% of Democrats said they would choose him as the party’s nominee in 2016. Should Clinton decide not to run, that number grows slightly to 6%.
O’Malley has taken steps to become a more widely known name in national politics. He visited New Hampshire and South Carolina last year, two crucial states that vote early in the primary and caucus season during presidential election years.
He also led the Democratic Governors Association as chairman before taking his current post as finance chairman, a prime spot that will put him in a position to meet with key donors across the country.
“It’s an honor to even be mentioned in the company of those that might lead our country forward after President Obama. And right now I’m focused on the work at hand and the work of this General Assembly session in Maryland,” O’Malley said Sunday.
He was also asked Sunday about the controversy stinging another potential 2016 candidate, Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, who apologized last week for his aides’ ordering lane closures on the George Washington Bridge.
While O’Malley said the two “differ greatly on policy choices,” he decided not to take a swipe at Christie or his administration, saying he doesn’t think he can “shed more light on” the matter by commenting about the scandal.
“There’s certainly no issue that bothers our citizens quite as much as traffic congestion,” he said, but added “this is still early and the people of New Jersey and the authorities up there will get to the bottom of things.”