LOS ANGELES – The nation’s 20 Democratic governors re-elected Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley on Tuesday as head of their national political organization, assuring O’Malley a national voice in the run-up to the 2012 Election.
Eleven states, including eight now controlled by Democrats, will hold elections for governors in 2012. As chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, O’Malley (D) will be in charge of outside fundraising for those races.
The position also will continue to provide O’Malley a platform with which to continue building a national reputation. He has used his first year as head of the DGA to launch sharp attacks on Republican governors and GOP presidential hopefuls. With increasing frequency he has also served as a surrogate for President Obama and Democratic Party positions on Sunday morning talk shows.
It is rare for a governor to serve two terms as DGA chair, but North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue, who holds the position of vice chair, is expected to face one of the toughest re-election battles of any governor next year. She supported O’Malley to continue atop the organization for another year.
In O’Malley’s first year as chair, the organization was credited with helping Democrats fight to a 2-2 draw in governors’ races nationwide – a feat billed by Democrats as turning back the tide from an overwhelmingly successful year for Republicans in the 2010 mid-term elections. Democrats won in Kentucky and West Virginia, while Republicans won in Louisiana and Mississippi.
O’Malley’s second year will be tougher. Democrats will be hard-pressed to maintain the eight states they hold now. The Cook Political Report rates half – Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire and North Carolina -- in its “toss-up” category. By comparison, only Indiana, one of three states now held by Republicans and on the ballot next year, is similarly uncertain.
In a panel discussion Tuesday about the 2012 races at the organization’s winter meeting in Los Angeles, O’Malley said he was confident that by focusing on job creation and demonstrating that Democratic governors have been effective while in office, the party can be successful broadly in 2012.