- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 31, 2015

He’s telegenic, vigorous, a deft speaker: Martin O'Malley looks the part of an earnest and energetic presidential contender who could hold his own on a global stage. But now that he’s officially in the 2016 race, those who recall his years as the Democratic governor of Maryland have a few numbers to share. According to a tally by the House Republican Caucus of Maryland, Mr. O'Malley raised taxes and fees 83 times in his eight years in office, to the tune of $8 billion.

O'Malley was committed to raising as many different taxes as high as possible during his eight years as governor,” says Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “The voters of deep-blue Maryland gave their verdict on his governorship when they defeated his hand-picked candidate and elected an anti-tax Republican as governor. Not everyone can lose an election when they were not even on the ballot,” Mr. Norquist says, also noting that Mr. O'Malley “is a darling of radical spending interests, environmentalists and union bosses.”

A record like Mr. O'Malley’s can take it toll. A Gallup poll found last year that 47 percent of Marylanders said they would move out of the state “if they could.” A Tax Foundation study also found the state lost 66,000 resident and $5.5 billion in taxable income between 2000 and 2010. Maryland ranks the seventh in the nation for the worst taxes according to a Wall Street 24/7 analysis; the Fiscal Times rates the state at No. 10. Yeah, well.

But back to the Maryland Republicans, and their list of Mr. O'Malley’s tax doozies. Among them: a gas tax increase from 23.5 cents per gallon to 43.5 cents; $90 million worth of highway and bridge toll increases; a $390 million hospital provider tax; a sales tax hike from 5 to 6 percent ($603.4 million); and an income tax hike with new rates from 4.75 percent and 5.5 percent ($191.3 million). Republicans say the number suggest Mr. O'Malley’s taxing mindset has been around for a while — and could play out on a national level should he somehow wrest the Democratic nomination from rival Hillary Rodham Clinton and win the White House next year.

O'MALLEY: HIS PUBLIC POTENTIAL

“At 52, Martin O'Malley is a fresh face who will make the most of the age and era contrast with Hillary Clinton. There is a cool Kennedy air to him and he is an excellent TV performer, which will [benefit] him. A skilled debater and policy wonk, O'Malley will depend heavily on breakout performances in the six scheduled debates to spur on his candidacy. He will certainly show a profound grasp of the details — there will be no Rick Perry moments like when the Texas governor forgot the name of government departments he wanted to cut,” writes James O’Shea, a correspondent for IrishCentral.com, a news site for Irish-Americans.


SEE ALSO: Martin O’Malley readies to battle Hillary Clinton for Hispanic votes


“Underestimate O'Malley at your peril. He comes at a time when media is desperate to highlight a serious challenge to Hillary and he has excellent credentials to do so,” Mr. O’Shea noted.

OBAMA’S TEPID WEEK

As he does each work, pollster John Zogby offers a White House report card. The rating currently hovers just above an F grade.

“Such a rotten week. The president gets a double whammy on the economy. First is the report that the economy contracted 0.7 percent during the first quarter. That is devastating in itself, aside from what it does to the public spirit,” Mr. Zogby says. “Next, the consumer confidence Index was down again, as it was last week and for the whole month of May. At the same time, ISIS continues its advance. None of this is reflected in the polling on Obama yet, but it could get there. This is not what Democratic candidates need as the 2016 campaign develops,” the pollster concludes.

His grade for Mr. Obama: D-minus.

WHERE’S MR. WALKER?

New Hampshire is the land of many Republicans this week. Beginning Monday, Sen. Ted Cruz will arrive in the Granite State, to be followed by Sen. Lindsey Graham, Gov. John Kasich, Sen. Rand Paul, former Gov. Bob Ehrlich and Gov. Chris Christie — in that order.

And Scott Walker? The Wisconsin governor journeys to Georgia on Monday to meet with local elected officials, party leaders and activists in Atlanta, according to Our American Revival, his political action committee. Then it’s on to Florida; Mr. Walker will speak at an economic growth summit organized by Gov. Rick Scott, this at Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club.

A PROMISING WEEK FOR MR. PERRY

The Texas state House and Senate have voted to remove public corruption cases from the state’s Public Integrity Unit, linked to a 2014 indictment of then-Gov. Rick Perry for abuse of power. The legislation has gone to Gov. Greg Abbott, suggesting future public corruption cases be investigated and prosecuted in a two-step process by the Texas Rangers and district attorneys. Mr. Perry, meanwhile, reveals his White House intentions at an event in Addison, a town near Dallas on Thursday.

He got a notable vote of confidence from Tara Kyle, widow of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the most lethal sniper in U.S. history and the subject of a best-selling book and feature film on his life.

“I tend to keep my political opinions to myself — the only candidate I ever endorsed was in a race for county sheriff — but this is different. I’ll proudly stand with one of the great leaders this state and country have ever produced: Rick Perry,” Mrs. Kyle said, according to RickPAC, a political action committee. She’ll be there, in fact, when Mr. Perry makes his big announcement.

MARIA’S WORLD EXPANDS

Debuting Monday: “Mornings with Maria Bartiromo” on the Fox Business Network, showcasing her insights on financial news and business themes, aided by a changing roundtable of business experts. Of significance: The daily show is three hours long, starting at 6 a.m. ET.

PUSHING BACK

“For the pro-life movement and the protection of unborn children from abortion, we must replace pro-abortion President Obama with a pro-life president. It would be a monumental loss for unborn babies if Hillary Clinton becomes president. If she is elected president, Hillary Clinton will continue to advance abortion at every turn. A President Hillary Clinton for four or even eight years in the White House will keep abortion legal for decades as she will stack the Supreme Court with pro-abortion extremists.”

— From a public petition launched by LifeNews.com, an independent news agency for the pro-life community.

POLL DU JOUR

52 percent overall say they would be comfortable if they saw someone with a handgun in a holster in public; 72 percent of Republicans, 54 percent of independents and 35 percent of Democrats agree.

48 percent overall say the “average American” can be trusted with a firearm; 69 percent of Republicans, 49 percent of independents and 32 percent of Democrats agree.

45 percent say people should not be able to carry firearms in public; 23 percent of Republicans, 42 percent of independents and 66 percent of Democrats agree.

41 percent say people should be able to carry firearms in public; 67 percent of Republicans, 43 percent of independents and 21 percent of Democrats agree.

40 percent overall prefer “concealed carry” for firearms in public; 50 percent of Republicans, 38 percent of independents and 36 percent of Democrats agree.

37 percent overall prefer “open carry” in public; 36 percent of Republicans, 37 percent of independents and 38 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A YouGov poll of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted May 20-22.

Significant talking points, trite hearsay to jharper@ washingtontimes.com.

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