First elected Mayor of Baltimore in 1999, O'Malley was reelected as mayor in 2003. Considering a run for governor in 2002, O'Malley instead focused on his mayoralty. In 2006, nearing the end of his second term as mayor, O'Malley announced his candidacy for Governor of Maryland, an office he would win by a sizeable margin; he was reelected by a wider margin in a rematch against Bob Ehrlich in 2010.
O'Malley had been seen as a potential presidential candidate since at least November 2012. In the next month, he said that Clinton, who has launched her own 2016 campaign, would be a "great president", brushing off questions about his own potential candidacy and commenting that he would have to do "a lot of soul-searching and discernment and introspection."
The day prior to his announcement, May 29, O'Malley released a video of himself strumming the presidential fanfare Hail to the Chief on his guitar, alluding to his impending announcement. The following day, May 30, O'Malley launched his campaign at a scheduled rally in Baltimore, Maryland.
On January 20, 2016, the Federal Election Commission announced that his campaign would receive $846,365.09 in federal matching funds, on top of an initial $100,000 the campaign received after qualifying for matching funds. In November 2015, O’Malley became the first 2016 presidential candidate to be declared eligible by the Commission to receive federal matching funds.
On February 1, 2016, O'Malley announced the suspension of his campaign after a poor showing in the Iowa caucuses.
O'Malley speaking with supporters at a campaign event in Manchester, New Hampshire.
During a speech at Harvard's Institute of Politics, O'Malley stated his support for a $15 minimum wage, claiming that it will "fuel economic growth, greater consumer demand." He is also careful to refer to his support for a "living wage" rather than a "minimum wage." During his final year serving as the Governor of Maryland, O'Malley signed a bill to gradually raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. This followed a 2007 "living wage" law requiring government contractors to pay their employees significantly more than the minimum wage; the exact level of wage increase varied from county to county depending on the cost of living.
O'Malley has made financial regulation a significant plank of his platform, placing such great emphasis on it that he has been nicknamed "the Glass-Steagall candidate." This name also stems from his strong support for the reinstatement of the provision of the Glass-Steagall Act separating commercial and investment banking. O'Malley favors breaking up the nation's biggest financial institutions in order to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis, in which a number of banks were declared "too big to fail."
O'Malley speaking at an immigration roundtable in Phoenix, Arizona.
Many in the Latino community consider O'Malley a strong ally on immigration reform. For instance, Congressman Luis Gutiérrez called O'Malley a "champion" of immigration in 2014 when the two were working to oppose the White House's deportation policy. O'Malley's support for allowing minors escaping violence in their home countries to stay in the United States put him at odds with the White House, which favored sending them home. When he was Governor of Maryland, O'Malley signed a statewide DREAM Act allowing young illegal immigrants to pay in-state college tuition and to a bill to get driver's licenses.
O'Malley is a gun control advocate. In May 2013 he signed the Firearm Safety Act which bans magazine that hold more than 10 bullets, 45 types of semiautomatic rifles, requires people seeking to buy any gun other than a hunting rifle or shotgun to obtain a license, submit fingerprints to police, undergo a background check and pass classroom and firing-range training in Maryland. In his campaign he is calling for a national assault weapons ban. O'Malley says that he is "pissed" about the gun control climate and that Congress is not doing anything about it.
O'Malley in August 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act in South Carolina by calling for a constitutional amendment to “protect every citizen’s right to vote, once and for all.” He added that “Passing a constitutional amendment that enshrines that right,” he explained, “will give U.S. courts the clarity they need to strike down Republican efforts to suppress the vote.”