Martin O’ Malley’s announcement that he is running for president on Saturday may have introduced him to many voters for the first time, but he has been laying the groundwork for an expected bid for quite some time, building ties to the significant fundraising base of entertainment donors.
“Our land of opportunity is being turned into a land of inequality. Main street declines while Wall Street soars,” O’Malley said at a rally in Baltimore, where in his speech he talked extensively of the American dream, addressed the recent riots in that city and even quoted Bruce Springsteen.
He also said that the presidency should not be a “crown” to be passed between two “royal families,” referring to the Bushes and the Clintons.
The former Maryland governor will be in Los Angeles to raise money later next month, with June 22 expected to be the date and a location to be announced, sources said.
Last month, O’Malley appeared before about 70 supporters at the restaurant Republique, co-hosted by Eric Paquette, Sony Pictures senior VP, and Dixon Slingerland, executive director of the nonprofit Youth Policy Institute. The event was to raise money for his political action committee, O’ PAC, but the draw undoubtedly was an expected presidential bid.
That was only his latest visit to L.A.: In September, O’Malley held another fundraiser for his PAC that was co-hosted by Paquette and Slingerland, as well as producer Moctesuma Esparza, KMS Software president Yolanda “Cookie” Parker and MarketShare co-founder Jon Vein. According to Federal Election Commission records, donors to his PAC that month also included animal welfare advocate Cheri Shankar and jazz musician Corky Hale.
Some donors say that they will support multiple candidates, including Clinton, in the primary until they see how the race shakes out. One industry donor who is supporting O’Malley, who declined to be identified, said that Democrats need a “credible” alternative should Clinton’s campaign falter, noting the efforts by Republicans to try to tarnish her with scandal. “You just never know” if one of the lines of GOP attack will work, the donor said.
O’Malley’s entertainment support may not resemble, in scope, the collection of creative types and progressives that were coalescing around Barack Obama at this point in his first presidential run, but donors say that they were drawn to what they saw as a more progressive alternative to Clinton, or at least to the idea that her nomination would be a foregone conclusion.
“I like [O’Malley] a lot. I try to tout him as much as possible, but it is very hard,” says Hale, noting the attention that has been paid to Clinton’s second presidential bid. Hale’s husband, Mike Stoller, also is a prominent donor to Democrats.
“Obviously if Hillary gets it, we will probably support Hillary,” she says.
Why an alternative?
“We are out with a lot of people, and a lot of people say, ‘We don’t know. We can’t warm up to her,'” she says.
O’Malley also has a musical background that other candidates do not. On Friday, his campaign released a video in which he was playing “Hail to the Chief” on a guitar.
Update: Hale says that she is friends with O’Malley and supports his candidacy. She and her husband, Mike Stoller, who are major donors to the Democratic Party, will certainly support Clinton if she is the party’s nominee, she said.
Parker says that she is supporting Clinton.