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In California speech, O’Malley touts work on minimum wage, immigrant issues in Maryland

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) vowed his state will raise the minimum wage this year and recounted a series of other liberal policy victories during an address Saturday to a convention of California Democrats.

O’Malley, who is preparing for a possible 2016 White House bid, said that progress is “about building the more inclusive, open and secure world we seek for our children,” according to a copy of his remarks delivered at the annual California Democrats State Convention. He touted Maryland’s efforts to create jobs and also touched on the state’s legalization of same-sex marriage, repeal of the death penalty and adoption of strict gun-control measures.

Speaking to an audience in Los Angeles, O’Malley noted that Maryland has the lowest unemployment rate among Hispanics of any state in the nation. And he also talked up his state’s extension of in-state college tuition to undocumented immigrants and its decision to make driver’s licenses available to them.

“While we wait for Congress to answer Leader Pelosi’s call to fix our broken immigration system, we passed a law in Maryland to enable undocumented immigrants to legally obtain driver’s licenses,” O’Malley said, referring to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). He called her a “daughter of Baltimore,” making note of the Maryland city where she was born.

O’Malley’s pledge to raise Maryland’s minimum wage — “because no one who works full time should raise their family in poverty,” he said Saturday — came a day after the Maryland House of Delegates passed his plan for an increase from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 by 2017. A tougher battle looms in the state Senate.

O’Malley’s appearance at the convention in California — where he is among a handful of out-of-state speakers — was his latest national exposure as he weighs his political future. In an interview published last month in The Post, O’Malley said he is moving forward with preparations for a presidential bid and cannot afford to wait to see whether Hillary Rodham Clinton runs. Recent polls have shown O’Malley severely lagging in hypothetical matchups against Clinton, even in Maryland.

Much of Saturday’s remarks echoed a speech O’Malley gave late last year at a Democratic dinner in New Hampshire, traditionally the state’s first presidential nominating state.

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.

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

“We seem to have lost the shared conviction that we once had that we actually have the ability to make things better together,” O’Malley said.

As he closed his speech, O’Malley called for the country “to believe like Americans again — ourselves, in our nation and in one another.”

John Wagner is a political reporter covering the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.



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