On Friday, Martin O’Malley spent an hour with students in Houston Hall discussing his political experience on the local, state and federal levels and data-driven governance.
Recently, O’Malley campaigned for the Democratic presidential nomination, but dropped out of the race after a poor performance in the Iowa caucuses. He said he was disappointed, but that the young people he met during the campaign gave him faith that the country is headed in the right direction.
Although O’Malley did not discuss whether he would campaign for the presidency a second time, he criticized the Trump administration and said he was grateful that “no political term goes on forever.” He added that Trump was able to take advantage of political journalism’s focus on “infotainment” to keep himself in the spotlight during the primaries.
“They saw how entertained we were by him, and they gave us more,” he said.
The former governor of Maryland and 2016 presidential candidate emphasized his data-driven approach to policymaking in his speech.
During his tenure as mayor of Baltimore, O’Malley began using CitiStat, software that allows for governments to closely monitor their performance across a variety of categories so that officials can make informed decisions based on real-time data. When O’Malley became governor, he applied the CitiStat model — which he then renamed StateStat — during his eight-year term.
O’Malley stressed that programs like CitiStat, which measures the outputs of government as opposed to the inputs, keep policymakers informed, transparent and effective. Beth Blaurer, director of StateStat under O’Malley, said after the event that his interest in quantifying and monitoring the outputs of government — which she jokingly referred to as “his nerdiness” — distinguishes O’Malley from other politicians.
Fels Institute of Government professor Matthew Gallagher, who served as chief of staff for O’Malley while he was governor, praised O’Malley’s ability to share his “constructive worldview at a contentious time,” adding that “he tried to focus a lot of his remarks on cities, towns and states and how they can be incubators for change and improvement.” The Fels Institute organized the discussion with O’Malley.
Speaking to a crowd composed mostly of Fels graduate students, O’Malley encouraged students interested in public office to take the initiative to run.
“I want to encourage you, if I do nothing else during our time together, to follow that feeling in your heart and to do it,” he said. “The only thing that’s wrong with politics in America today is that not enough good people try.”