In Wisconsin, O’Malley takes aim at state’s GOP governor and well-known congressman


Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

In a speech to Wisconsin Democrats on Saturday night, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) took jabs at the state’s Republican governor and its high-profile congressman Paul Ryan, and touted his own efforts back home to raise the minimum wage.

O’Malley, who is preparing for a possible 2016 White House bid, was highly critical of the federal budget authored by Ryan, the House’s budget committee chairman, which passed the chamber this week.

“When Pope Francis urged American Catholics to fight poverty, Congressman Ryan thought he said, ‘Fight the poor,’ ” O’Malley said, according to a copy of his prepared remarks to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s Founders Day Gala in Milwaukee.

O’Malley, meanwhile, called Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) a “devoted follower of trickle-down economics if ever there was one.”

O’Malley noted the legislative actions last week in Maryland and Minnesota to raise the minimum wage, something Walker has opposed in Wisconsin.

“If your goal is to hold down wages and turn Wisconsin into a subsidiary of Koch Industries, then Governor Walker’s your guy,” O’Malley said, referring to the giant conglomerate headed by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, who are prolific political donors.

O’Malley’s speech was the latest in a series of appearances around the country as he ponders his political future and, aides say, works to help fellow Democrats get elected this year.

The balance of O’Malley’s remarks Saturday night was similar to addresses he gave last fall to a party dinner in New Hampshire and last month to a Democratic convention in California.

O’Malley, whose second and final term as governor of Maryland ends in January, devoted a lengthy segment of his speech to his efforts to fight crime, drugs and apathy as mayor of Baltimore.

And he suggested that the country is now going through a “cynical time of disbelief” akin to what he encountered upon becoming mayor in 1999.

O’Malley also detailed a series of accomplishments in Maryland, including freezing public university tuition for four years, legalizing same-sex marriage, expanding collective bargaining rights and adopting some of the strictest gun-control laws in the country.

O’Malley’s arrival in Wisconsin was welcomed with a news release from the state Republican party detailing shortcomings in Maryland’s online health insurance exchange.

“It’s no surprise that Governor O’Malley is throwing his full support behind millionaire Mary Burke,” said Joe Fadness, executive director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, referring to the Democratic challenger to Walker. “Both Burke and O’Malley have supported failed state-run exchanges hampered by crashes, uncertainty and lost healthcare plans. While Maryland’s failures were so severe they are now rebuilding the exchange, it’s alarming that Mary Burke would have run Wisconsin the same way.”

John Wagner has covered Maryland government and politics for The Post since 2004.
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