O'Malley takes his message to Washington for third time in three days

Ann Marimow
Copyright 2011
Wednesday, February 2, 2011; 4:11 PM

For the third time in as many days, Gov. Martin O'Malley used his proximity to Washington and new position as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association to take his message to a national stage. Speaking to House Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, O'Malley pressed the importance of investing in public schools, job creation and infrastructure. Even in tough economic times, O'Malley said he was moving ahead, for instance, with plans to seek highly competitive federal money to build a light-rail Purple Line between Bethesda and New Carrollton and a light-rail Red Line in Baltimore. "Some people argue we can't afford both the Red and Purple lines. If we don't, O'Malley said, "We're not going to be ready and we're going to be left behind." Maryland's governor was invited to speak to the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), a Baltimore native who also had O'Malley as her guest at the State of the Union address last week. O'Malley received a warm reception from fellow Democrats -- including Maryland's Donna F. Edwards and C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger -- who noted the governor's double-digit reelection victory in November. He spent about 40 minutes answering what Ruppersberger joked were some "softball" questions and touted the expansion of tax credits for biotech companies and hiring credits to encourage job creation. O'Malley's testimony closely followed -- sometimes line-for-line -- his remarks Tuesday at the National Press Club during an event hosted by Governing Magazine. That message also appeared in an op-ed O'Malley penned in Politico on Wednesday. The governor said his State of the State speech Thursday would sound similar themes about the need to make "tough choices" on issues such as the state's pension system. O'Malley's appearance on Capitol Hill capped off three days of visits to Washington. On Monday, the governor met privately with Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) to discuss how Democratic governors can do more to work with Democrats on the Hill to help push their message and President Obama's agenda.

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