O'Malley announces he will seek Democratic nomination for 2016 White House

Published May 30, 2015 FoxNews.com

NOW PLAYINGFormer Maryland governor Martin O'Malley announces 2016 bi
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley on Saturday announced we will seek the Democratic nomination for president in 2016, posing a long-shot challenge to Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton and vowing to ensure the presidency won’t be a crown “passed back and forth between royal families.”

Declaring his plan to “Rebuild the American Dream,” O’Malley told a crowd of several hundred in Baltimore, where was once the mayor, “My decision has been made … I declare that I am a candidate for president of the United States.”

In a speech clearly intended to appeal the progressives and other members of the Democratic left, O’Malley vowed to go after Wall Street “cheats” and others who have turned the economy “upside down” to their favor.

The 2016 White House race could come down to nominees with a family member who has already been president.

The Republican candidate leading most polls is former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose father and brother were president. Hillary Clinton’s husband, Bill Clinton, served two terms as president.

O’Malley said the presidency is “a sacred trust to be earned from the people of the United States and exercised on behalf of the people of the United States.”

He made the announcement in Baltimore about a month after the Freddie Gray riots, which have been followed by a spike in homicides across the city.

A handful of demonstrators were at the announcement to protest O’Malley’s law-enforcement policies as mayor.

They held up signs including ones that read "Stop Killer Cops" and" What about Freddie Gray?"

O'Malley now heads to Iowa, an early-voting state where he has made frequent visits in recent months.

He will compete with 2016 candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an Independent, for the support of the Democratic left.

O’Malley met with donors Friday night, and his advisers released a YouTube video of him strumming "Hail to the Chief" on a guitar. The video shows him nodding his head in agreement, followed by the words, "Stay tuned." In his spare time, O'Malley fronts an Irish rock band called O'Malley's March.

O’Malley is also an ally of former President Bill Clinton and the second governor to endorse Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign in 2007. He says Democrats deserve a choice in the 2016 primary, though political analysts suggest the campaign is an effort to win a Clinton Cabinet position.

The 52-year-old O'Malley has spoken often about the economic challenges facing the nation and said he would bring new leadership, progressive values and the ability to accomplish things.

O'Malley has presented himself to voters as a next-generation leader for the party, pointing to his record as governor on issues such as gay marriage, immigration, economic issues and the death penalty.

Just weeks ago, riots in Baltimore broke out following the death of Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died in police custody following his arrest last month.

Thirty-eight people have been killed in Baltimore so far this month.

Demonstrators planned to gather near Federal Hill Park during O'Malley's announcement to protest his criminal justice policies as mayor, an office he held from 1999 until his election as governor in 2006.

O'Malley was known for his tough-on-crime, "zero tolerance" policies that led to large numbers of arrests for minor offenses. Critics say it sowed distrust between police and the black community. Supporters note the overall decrease in violent crime during his tenure.

O'Malley has defended his work to curb crime, saying he helped address rampant violence and drug abuse. He has said the unrest in Baltimore should wake up the nation to the need to address despair in poor communities.

O'Malley could soon be joined in the Democratic field by former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who plans to make an announcement next week, and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, who is exploring a potential campaign.

Sanders has raised more than $4 million since opening his campaign in late April and sought to build support among liberals in the party who are disillusioned with Clinton.

One of O'Malley's first tasks as a candidate would be to consolidate support among Democrats who are reluctant to back Clinton and eyeing Sanders.

"His first real hurdle here is not Secretary Clinton, it's Senator Sanders," said Craig Varoga, who was O'Malley's chief strategist during his 2010 re-election campaign but is not currently advising him. "There's no ambiguity at all with Senator Sanders on the issues and he came out of the gate with strong fundraising. He set a pretty high bar."