O’Malley plans trip to South Carolina, an early presidential primary state

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) appears on "Face the Nation" on Feb. 24. (Photo by Chris Usher/CBS News via Getty Images)

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) plans to head to South Carolina later this month to deliver the keynote address at an annual Democratic Party issues conference being held in Charleston, an aide said.

The trip, in the midst of Maryland’s busy 90-day legislative session, is certain to stoke more talk about O’Malley’s ambitions for higher office in 2016. South Carolina is an early presidential primary state.

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O’Malley is attending the March 23 event at the invitation of South Carolina state Sen. Vincent Sheheen (D), said the O’Malley aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the appearance has not been formally announced. Sheheen is considering a rematch with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) in 2014.

The governor’s speech will touch on both his accomplishments in Maryland and the importance of electing a Democratic governor in South Carolina, the aide said.

O’Malley, the former chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, has an added incentive to travel to South Carolina: His daughter, Tara, is a student at the College of Charleston.

The South Carolina Democratic Party’s event is billed as “a daylong conference with panel and breakout discussions on a variety of topics important to South Carolina.” About 300 Democratic elected officials and party activists are expected to attend, according to the aide.

O’Malley, whose second term as governor ends in January 2015, has largely deflected questions about his political future beyond Maryland.

He is regularly mentioned by pundits as a potential 2106 presidential contender, though O’Malley is not well known in South Carolina and other early nominating states.

A Washington Post poll last month showed that most Maryland Democrats would prefer Hillary Clinton as the party’s 2016 presidential nominee.

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