WASHINGTON — Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley met with the House Democratic Caucus Tuesday morning in an effort to earn more support for his presidential run as he continues to struggle in the polls.
Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton has been endorsed by 38 senators and 144 House members,, including every Democrat in the Maryland delegation.
“I certainly asked all the members if I could not today be their first choice, if I could today be their second choice and I look forward to their support in the future,” O’Malley said in a press conference after the meeting, responding to a Capital News Service question. “So I don’t expect any endorsements today but I do expect endorsements later in this process once the people start to decide.”
In addition to not receiving any endorsements from Maryland’s congressional Democrats, O’Malley also has struggled to earn support from the voters of his home state. Just 7 percent of Maryland Democratic voters listed the former governor as their top choice in a Maryland Public Opinion Survey conducted in November by St. Mary’s College and released Tuesday.
That survey also showed O’Malley holding a 26 percent approval rating among Maryland residents, with 66 percent rating him unfavorably.
Hillary Clinton led with 48 percent of Maryland respondents, while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders received 19 percent.
Speaking to reporters, O’Malley drew a contrast between himself and the two Democratic frontrunners on economic policy, trying to position himself between Clinton and Sanders, a self-described Democratic Socialist.
“The economy we build is a product of the choices we make,” O’Malley said. “Between the sort of crony capitalism and Wall Street capitalism, an economy by the few and for the few, and the proven failure that is socialism, there is a better way forward and it is fair market American capitalism where, when people work hard, they are able to get ahead.”
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. Xavier Becerra of California said O’Malley received a warm reception from Democrats in the closed meeting.
“Not only was he well-received, he received a standing ovation and quite a bit of applause. And so he’s considered a great friend, a great Democrat, and one of the best governors we’ve seen in quite some time,” Becerra said in a press conference after the caucus meeting. “All of us were thrilled and pleased that he took the time to visit with us and give us more words about his leadership and what he would do for this country.”
O’Malley has been endorsed by one member of Congress, Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, a University of Maryland College Park alumnus.
“What I most admire is his perspective as someone who is willing to, day in and day out, make the case literally doorstep to doorstep, main street to main street, across Iowa and New Hampshire and he believes that the time he puts in now will pay dividends come January and February,” Swalwell told reporters after the meeting.
On the Republican side, the St. Mary’s College survey showed strong support in Maryland for Donald Trump and Ben Carson, with 27 percent and 24 percent respectively. The survey was conducted via e-mail and had 116 respondents, giving it a relatively high margin of error of plus or minus 9.1 percent.