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Martin O'Malley

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, a potential 2020 presidential candidate, was in Davenport on Saturday, meeting with area Democrats as part of a push toward the 2018 midterm elections.

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley was in Davenport on Saturday, saying controversies in the White House are pushing unaligned voters to the left in a way that will help Democrats in this year’s midterm elections.

“The crazier things get out of that Trump White House, the more independents look our way, and they’re coming our way strong,” O’Malley told more than 40 people at Scott County Democratic headquarters.

O’Malley said that President Donald Trump has been a great recruitment tool for Democrats, and this year’s midterms are a chance to push back on the 2016 losses.

“Great countries sometimes make bad mistakes. Good countries correct those mistakes, and that’s what we have the ability to do in these midterms,” he said.

O’Malley, an unsuccessful 2016 presidential candidate who is thinking about giving it another try in 2020, was in Iowa for a series of events this weekend, including a fundraiser in Iowa City on Sunday for Rep. Dave Loebsack.

The former governor has been traveling to more than two dozen states, and he focused Saturday on the need for Democrats to prevail at the state level.

Republicans have full control of legislatures in 31 states and the governorship in 33, including in Iowa. O’Malley said it was time to win back some of those states, and he pointed to the 92nd House District, a key seat for Democrats if they’re to win control of the Iowa House.

The seat is currently held by Rep. Ross Paustian, R-Walcott, but it has changed parties frequently over the years.

Democratic leaders have urged a focus on the 2018 midterms, rather than the 2020 presidential election. And, like O’Malley, a number of potential future presidential hopefuls have worked to help candidates on the ballot this fall, an effort that also can help themselves should they decide to run in 2020.

Already, O’Malley has helped with two special elections in Davenport.

In 2016, O’Malley finished a distant third in the Iowa caucuses, and there are a bevy of potential candidates for 2020 who are better known and have higher political profiles.

In an interview Saturday, O’Malley said that, unlike in 2016, there’s a higher priority being placed now on new leadership and he’s trying to figure out whether he fits that category.

“Having run before in some respects, I don’t. In other respects, the way the process unfolded there’s a lot of people I talk to who say, ’you were the younger guy that they wouldn’t let talk, and I’d like to hear more from you,’” he said.

The 2016 contest essentially devolved into a head-to-head race between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. He dropped out of the presidential race shortly after the Iowa caucuses.

On Saturday, he was reminded of the campaign by a man wearing an O’Malley for President 2016 t-shirt. To laughter, the former governor called the man forward, told him he like his attire and added, “I’m sorry I couldn’t have gotten you more friends, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.”

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Editorial Page Editor