Kurtz, Howard, Newsweek
Byline: Howard Kurtz
The president has no obvious successor. Let the 2016 jockeying begin.
President Obama may be a prodigious campaigner, but as he fights to hang on to his job, some Democrats are grumbling that he hasn't done much to help them keep theirs. The president raises money for the party, but remains somewhat aloof from his side's lawmakers. He hasn't exactly groomed a successor for 2016, either. He expresses occasional exasperation with his vice president, Joe Biden, who would be 74 upon taking office. His formerly fierce rival, Hillary Clinton, is stepping down as secretary of state and insists she won't mount another White House campaign. The upshot is a gaping void for the post-Obama era, a space that two ambitious governors untainted by the mess in Washington are quietly moving to fill.
New York's Andrew Cuomo took the lead by legalizing gay marriage, the new Democratic litmus test, last summer. Maryland's Martin O'Malley, who hadn't embraced the issue previously, got it done in March. "They're just shadowing each other," says Democratic strategist Joe Trippi. "As soon as one of them scores a point, the other one goes to score." Maryland GOP chairman Alex Mooney says O'Malley moved on marriage because "Cuomo was for it and he didn't want to lose support from that community in the Democratic primary."
O'Malley, 49, is a former Baltimore mayor, a guitarist in a Celtic rock band, and the model for ambitious pol Tommy Carcetti in the HBO series The Wire. Asked about the presidential chatter, he pauses, laughs, and stares at me intently: "What's helpful to me as governor is that people come to understand the progress we're making. …