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Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley became the the third Democrat to officially join the campaign for the 2016 presidential nomination, announcing his candidacy in Baltimore on Saturday. As the press coverage of his announcement makes plain, he has a lot of work to do if he wants to mount a viable challenge to the frontrunner. From Real Clear Politics:

O’Malley Joins 2016 Presidential Race

Martin O’Malley had a lot of competition Saturday as he announced his candidacy to become the president who will “rebuild the American dream.”

Neighborhoods of the city he once governed as mayor are in enough upheaval over race and violent policing that his boasts of being tough on crime and resolving Baltimore’s urban problems have been undercut. And implicit in his campaign launch was the acknowledgement that Hillary Clinton, the rival he paints as an elitist Democratic dinosaur, is nonetheless outpolling him by 51 points in the RealClearPolitics average.

A modest outdoor crowd in Federal Hill Park downtown was small enough to worry campaign staff members, who had sent out thousands of emailed invitations, hoping for something more robust than about 300 people, some of them passersby. And there were glitches: a short campaign video began playing on a huge screen, but went black when the audio malfunctioned.

And the Saturday temperature was searing enough to make “melting pot” a literal description for the crowd, beyond the 70 people standing behind the former Maryland governor (one woman wearing an American Indian headdress)to represent the nation’s diversity.

Behind barricades, a handful of protesters used whistles, shouts of “black lives matter,” and “zero tolerance,” plus handmade signs to create some counter-messaging during O’Malley’s 25-minute speech. The police and security personnel left them alone…

It seems fair to say the O’Malley team was hoping for more positive coverage of the announcement, but most of it seemed to focus on the difficulties he will face. A Politico article titled “O’Malley’s long-shot bid gets a complicated start” lays out some of the problems faced by the former Maryland governor:

The run-up to his launch here could hardly have been worse, complicated in recent weeks by unrest in the city where he served as mayor and the unexpected early momentum of another Hillary Clinton challenger: Bernie Sanders.

At one time, O’Malley figured to be Clinton’s default rival for the Democratic nomination… Yet it’s Sanders — a disheveled, 73-year-old socialist — who so far has captured the imagination of progressives looking for a Clinton alternative…

O’Malley has made his executive experience in Baltimore and Maryland, marked by a zeal for data-driven governance, central to the rationale for his candidacy, but his record has been cast in a different light since the death of 25-year-old African-American Freddie Gray in police custody set off protests and rioting in Baltimore in April. Some in the city blame O’Malley’s zero tolerance approach to policing, instituted at the turn of the century when the city was in the throes of a violent crime epidemic, for setting the stage for the unrest…

On Saturday, protesters blaming O’Malley for “police brutality” continuously attempted to interrupt the speech with shouting and whistling…

The Washington Post raises similar concerns this morning about whether O’Malley can pass Sanders to become Hillary Clinton’s main challenger for the Democratic nomination:

For months, Martin O’Malley has mulled how to compete with front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

Now that he’s officially a candidate, he also has to worry about Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

Sanders — a self-described socialist who many party leaders consider an unlikely standard-bearer — has started to rise in the polls, while O’Malley is hovering in the low single digits. At campaign stops in early states and elsewhere, the firebrand from Vermont is drawing enthusiastic crowds that are several times larger than those that gather for O’Malley…

O’Malley’s team is quick to point out that he came from essentially nowhere to win the race for mayor of Baltimore, and it is far too soon to write him off. But all in all, his campaign probably would have preferred press coverage focused on his message and vision for the presidency and not on his struggle to become relevant.

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