Martin O'Malley speaks with reporters in Annapolis earlier this month. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

Former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley (D) is retaining two operatives who worked in Iowa last year as he continues to weigh a 2016 White House bid.

O’Malley’s political action committee has hired Jake Oeth, a Des Moines-based consultant who most recently served as political director for Bruce Braley, the state’s unsuccessful Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate last year, O’Malley spokeswoman Lis Smith confirmed.

And O’Malley has kept Brad Elkins on the payroll as a Washington-based staffer for his PAC. Elkins worked last year as political director for Jack Hatch, the unsuccessful Democratic nominee for governor in Iowa.

Elkins was among the 14 political staffers that O’Malley’s PAC dispatched to Iowa to help the state party and its candidates. Elkins is now working on political outreach for O’Malley from Washington, Smith said.

The hirings come as O’Malley ponders moving forward with a bid for the Democratic nomination, a race that would likely pit him against Hillary Rodham Clinton. O’Malley, who left office in Maryland last week, has said he expects to announce a decision by the spring.

Iowa, the first presidential nominating state, would be a crucial testing ground for O’Malley, whose advisers feel he has a better early connection in the state than New Hampshire, the first primary state.

Oeth, whose hiring was first reported by Politico, has also worked in the district office of Braley, a former congressman, and as a legislative aide in Washington for Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).

Elkins is the former political director of the Truman National Security Project, a Washington-based think tank and leadership network.

Separately Tuesday, the Kansas Democratic Party announced that O’Malley would be the keynote speaker at a party banquet in Topeka on March 7.

“Martin O’Malley a bold, progressive leader in the Democratic Party, and we are honored that he will be joining us in Kansas,” Joan Wagnon, the state party chairwoman, said in a statement.