Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley left Louisville "very, very happy" after fundraiser, consultant says

06/13/2015 05:02 PM

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley faces long odds at netting the Democratic presidential nomination, but the candidate impressed at a recent Louisville fundraiser that exceeded his expectation, Democratic consultant Sherman Brown told Pure Politics Friday.

Brown — a former fundraiser of Gov. Steve Beshear, U.S. Senate candidate Bruce Lunsford and the Kentucky Democratic Party, where he also served as political director — helped organize the event at Christy Brown’s home Wednesday that drew about 125 attendees. Donations at the event ranged from $100 to the maximum $2,700, Sherman Brown said, although he declined to disclose how much was raised in total.

“It was a very successful event,” he said. “We had goals and we reached those goals, and they left very, very happy.”

In a state that Hillary Clinton won by about 35 points against President Barack Obama in 2008, Brown said he ran across a number of potential donors who declined to attend Wednesday’s fundraiser because their allegiances lie with the former U.S. secretary of state, who holds an average polling lead of 47.5 points according to an analysis by Real Clear Politics.

Others were simply unfamiliar with O’Malley, who announced his presidential bid May 30 and currently polls in fourth with an average of 2.3 points per Real Clear Politics.

“The way I’ve always answered the question as far as ‘Did you get any noes?’ Yes, we did get some noes,” Brown said. “If you’re not getting any noes, you didn’t make enough phone calls.”

“We’ve got some people who obviously are supporting Hillary,” he continued. “I mean, she’s going to have strong support here in Kentucky, there’s no doubt. We also got a lot of folks who were open and wanted to hear him speak, like I said. The majority of the people that we talked to were very supportive, and I think that showed in our reception on Wednesday night.”

Brown said O’Malley is focusing on three early primary states — Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina — but he addressed inclusion, new leadership, bold ideas and “getting things done.”

Those points were echoed by O’Malley senior strategist Bill Hyers, who said in a statement that the country “will not make progress with status quo thinking.”

“We need someone who can bring new leadership, strong progressive values, and a record of getting things done to the White House — and that person is Martin O’Malley,” Hyers said in a statement.

“He has been fearless and specific in the progressive agenda that we need to rebuild the American Dream — calling for reining in reckless behavior on Wall Street, stopping bad trade deals like TPP, raising the threshold for overtime pay and the minimum wage to $15 an hour, expanding Social Security, fighting for debt-free college, and understanding that immigration reform is a national economic imperative.”

Brown said no additional Kentucky fundraisers have been planned, but he’s ready to lend a hand O’Malley in a volunteer capacity, as he did in helping organize Wednesday’s fundraiser.

The two first met during the former Maryland governor’s 2010 re-election campaign, then saw each other again at the Kentucky Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in 2011, he said.

“I really got to know him back in February, had lunch with him and at that time, just kind of told him that if he were to look at running, that would be something I’d be interested in helping him out with, at least on the fundraising side with my background on fundraising in Kentucky,” Brown said.

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.


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