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Martin O'Malley Surprises No One, Suspends Campaign After Finishing a Distant Third

The candidate's family accompanied him as he bussed across Iowa in what would turn out to be the closing days of his run. The former governor of Maryland found himself with under 1 percent support in the Hawkeye State and called it quits.
February 2, 2016, 4:00am
Photo by Andrew Gombert/EPA

In a move that won't surprise many in the Democratic Party, former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley announced Monday night that he is suspending his campaign for president.

O'Malley delivered the announcement alongside campaign volunteers, his wife, and three children at Wooly's, a music venue in Des Moines where he had planned a party for supporters this evening. But with 85 percent of precincts reporting, O'Malley found himself with under 1 percent support in the Hawkeye State and called it quits.

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In the speech, O'Malley advocated for progressive causes and told stories he'd heard from families as he traveled across Iowa that had illustrated the causes he had fought for.

"Katie and the kids and I decided it would be an extreme poverty indeed if the Democratic party only had two candidates to choose from," he said to cheers. "And so we made this fight and I cannot thank you enough for giving me an opportunity to write this story of this country's future.

"I want to thank everyone who to came out to our events and lent me their ear — everyone who came out to caucus for me tonight," he added with a laugh.

The candidate's family accompanied him as he bussed across Iowa over the last three days, with his children — Grace, 24; Tara, 23; and Will, 18 — breaking off to represent him at events in a number of towns and cities in what would turn out to be the closing days of his run.

O'Malley had appeared upbeat at a rally on Monday afternoon, despite consistently polling in the single digits both nationally and in the critical early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire since announcing his campaign in May.

"In a tough, unprecedented year, O'Malley spent more time in Iowa than any other candidate and remained the most accessible," a source close to the campaign said Monday night. "He ran an energetic and honorable campaign, leading the field with the most bold progressive policy proposals, and he successfully pushed the other candidates on gun safety, immigration, and climate policy."

The former mayor of Baltimore and two-term governor of Maryland never got the bump he was hoping for in his race for the presidency. He hoped to prove to Democrats that he was a safe alternative to Hillary Clinton, the candidate he himself had endorsed in 2008. But O'Malley's campaign just never caught fire. Even after Vice President Joe Biden and other potential alternative candidates took a pass on the race, Clinton maintained her base, Bernie Sanders outflanked him on the left, and O'Malley was stuck essentially begging for airtime during the debates.

In November, a joke photo caption in the Wall Street Journal referring to O'Malley as "unidentified man" was so believable that many on social media thought it was an actual mistake made by an editor at the paper who didn't recognize the governor.

Oh dear. This is a brutal photo caption. — Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz)November 5, 2015