Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s name surfaced Friday on several lists of possible replacements for Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who announced that she would step down to become president of the University of California system.
O’Malley spokeswoman Takirra Winfield said though the governor is flattered by the speculation, “right now he’s focused on being governor.”
O’Malley (D) has sought to carve out a niche on homeland security issues since his days as mayor of Baltimore, which has a deep-water port.
He is currently the chairman of the health and homeland security committee for the National Governors Association. Earlier this year, O’Malley was also named by President Obama as co-chairman of the Council of Governors, a group charged with strengthening collaboration between federal and state governments on national security issues.
In the past, O’Malley, who is weighing a 2016 presidential bid, has signaled that he intends to serve out his term as governor, which ends in January 2015.
But some advisers suggested Friday that O’Malley would certainly give serious consideration to an Obama Cabinet post if asked to take it. They said they were not sure how likely that scenario might be.
The advisers requested anonymity to more freely discuss O’Malley future. Some also acknowledged that the recent indictments of corrections officers at a state-run jail in Baltimore could make a bid for a Cabinet post more awkward for O’Malley right now.
O’Malley has acknowledged he is thinking about running for president, a calculation that is complicated by the growing speculation that Hillary Clinton will seek the Democratic nomination.
O’Malley was among the first governors to endorse Hillary Clinton’s 2008 bid, and Bill Clinton has campaigned on O’Malley’s behalf at some key junctures in his political career.
Among the publications that cited O’Malley as a possible Napolitano replacement Friday were National Journal, which called him “something of a dark-horse candidate.”
Politico said O’Malley “could ... be a strong candidate, even as he also weighs a bid for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.”