Jim Rosapepe, a Democrat state senator in Pennsylvania, in Politico talks up his old friend Martin O’Malley, soon to be the former Governor of Maryland, as the Democrat standard bearer in 2016 and hails him as a “Pope Francis Democrat”:
But, as one who has watched O’Malley up close during his years as governor, I find him more interesting and unusual in the modern Democratic Party. He’s a social justice Catholic—or, as some have called him, a Pope Francis Democrat—in the tradition of Mario Cuomo and Robert Kennedy.
Consider O’Malley’s outspoken leadership last summer on the crisis of refugee children on America’s border with Mexico. When demagogues claimed that frightened ten year olds from El Salvador are a threat to our way of life, O’Malley asked Americans to remember the biblical injunction of hospitality to strangers and protection of children. He brought together faith leaders in Maryland to find the right refuges for young refugees in his own state. According to the federal government, more than 2,200 of these children have found refuge in Maryland.
That’s the Martin O’Malley I know — acting on the values he learned from his family, from his Jesuit high school teachers, and from his college years at the Catholic University. And acting with the leadership skills of an Irish Catholic Democrat he learned in seven years as mayor of Baltimore and eight years as governor of Maryland.
Today, Maryland is first in median family income, a top three state in income mobility, and first in K-12 education and boosting college affordability five years in a row. And Maryland is one of only nineteen states to recover all the jobs lost in the Great Recession. That’s change working families can take to the bank.
O’Malley didn’t do this all by himself. But, with his Catholic social justice values and Irish political skills, he’s led Maryland’s progress for the past eight years. These are the traits he brings to the national stage.