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O’Malley touts Maryland’s increase in the minimum wage during speech in Nevada

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) touted his state’s move to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and knocked Republicans for blocking a similar measure this week in the U.S. Senate during a speech to Nevada Democrats on Friday night.

O’Malley, who plans to sign Maryland’s minimum wage bill Monday, was booked as the keynote speaker at the annual Clark County Democratic Party’s 2014 Jefferson Jackson Dinner in Las Vegas.

The speech in Nevada, an early presidential nominating state, was the latest in a series of appearances by O’Malley outside Maryland’s borders as he weighs whether to proceed with a 2016 White House bid despite his party’s widespread embrace of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“Just a few days ago, Hawaii voted to raise its minimum wage,” O’Malley told the crowd, according to a copy of his remarks provided by aides. “They joined Connecticut, Minnesota, and my own state of Maryland by increasing their minimum wage this year.”

“Sadly, when [Majority Leader] Harry Reid brought the issue to a vote in the U.S. Senate yesterday, every single Republican — but one — voted to filibuster and obstruct rather than raise the minimum wage for hard-working moms and dads across our country,” O’Malley said.

He later told the audience that Maryland lawmakers had decided to raise the state’s minimum wage because “when workers earn more money, businesses have more customers.”

“Prosperity doesn’t trickle down from the top,” O’Malley said. “It never has. A thriving economy — a growing economy — is built from the middle out and the middle up.”

The balance of O’Malley’s remarks Friday night was similar to addresses he gave last fall at a party dinner in New Hampshire and more recently at Democratic gatherings in California and Wisconsin.

O’Malley, whose second and final term as governor of Maryland ends in January, devoted a lengthy segment of his speech to his efforts as mayor of Baltimore to fight crime, drugs and apathy.

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

O’Malley also detailed other accomplishments in Maryland, including freezing public university tuition for four years, legalizing same-sex marriage, expanding collective bargaining rights and adopting some of the strictest gun-control laws in the country.

“Progress is not some magic trick,” O’Malley said. “And reform is not a mystery. These things do not happen by chance, they happen by choice.”

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

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