“These will be very collaborative discussions about not only what we’ve accomplished on each of these fronts but the road ahead,” O’Malley said in an interview. “I don’t look at this as some sort of ‘Mission Accomplished’ tour or victory lap.”
With O’Malley eyeing a White House bid in 2016, the events are certain to be interpreted differently by critics of the governor, who is term-limited and has less than 17 months left in office.
“He’s obviously gearing up for a presidential campaign, so I think he’s concerned about his legacy here in Maryland,” said Larry Hogan, chairman of Change Maryland, a grass-roots organization, and a possible Republican candidate for governor next year. “It’s kind of a PR effort to convince people he’s not as bad as they think.”
In recent years, O’Malley has established 16 measures of progress. Those on which the state is on track will be highlighted at the events, as well as those on which more effort is needed, O’Malley said. In some cases, the discussion at the forums could help inform O’Malley’s agenda in his final 90-day legislative session next year, he said.
O’Malley, for example, has set a goal of recovering 100 percent of jobs lost in the recession by the end of fiscal 2014. To date, the state has recovered 94 percent, according to data tracked by StateStat, a governing tool O’Malley pioneered. Progress toward that goal is said to be “on track.”
The state, meanwhile, has exceeded an O’Malley goal to reduce violent crime by 20 percent by the end of 2018. According to StateStat data, the number of violent-crime cases has dropped by more than 26 percent since 2006, the year O’Malley was first elected.
But the state has made “insufficient progress” on an O’Malley goal of doubling mass-transit ridership in Maryland by the end of 2010, according to his office. Since 2006, there has been only a 14 percent increase.
A goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020 is also progressing more slowly than envisioned — with an 8 percent decrease since 2006.
Several of the goals O’Malley has set have target dates beyond the end of his tenure. He said he is hopeful that his successor will continue to track progress and update strategies for achieving the goals.
Aides said other planned events will focus on: education in Charles County in September, sustainability in Howard County in October, security in Prince George’s County in November and public health in Baltimore later in November.
Mike Morrill, a longtime Democratic strategist, said O’Malley is smart to be highlighting progress. Typically, as a governor nears the end of his term, his adversaries are happy to talk about shortcomings, while his allies are focused on the future.
“If you don’t burnish your legacy, no one else will,” Morrill said.