Wednesday, August 31, 2011

O'Malley's Big Test: West Virginia Governor's Race // Plus, Who is Colm O'Comartun?

Today, I received an email solicitation from someone named "Colm O'Comartun." The message contained a one-word subject line: "tonight."
Don't worry, I am not about to break news about Maryland's next sex scandal.
For those who may be unfamiliar with Mr. O'Comartun, he is currently serving as Executive Director of the Democratic Governor's Association (DGA). O'Comartun was selected by Governor O'Malley, who took over as Chair of the DGA early this year. Today's email message, read (in part):


It's hard to believe that our first gubernatorial election is just 34 days away.

Less than five weeks from now, West Virginians will be casting their votes for a new governor....

All told, Democrats are defending nine state houses, while the Republicans are only defending five....

The DGA needs your help to combat their radical agenda and win these races fair and square....
With your help, we'll win the election in West Virginia 34 days from now and go on to elect more job-creating Democratic governors in the days ahead.

Colm O'Comartun
Executive Director
Democratic Governors Association
And with that, Mr. O'Comartun (who we will shorthand "M'OC" from hereonout) began his pitch to raise money for the DGA:

National party leadership posts often provide party members and leaders the opportunity to test-drive members of their farm team. Leadership posts (ie: at the DGA, DCCC, DNC, DSC, etc.), allow politicians to shine -- but they can also cast an unfriendly spotlight on less than stellar officials. Take, as an example, the large drop in standing that former Lt. Governor Michael Steele faced after taking the reigns of the Republican National Committee. Steele stepped down from his post after a year of controversies ranging from upsetting Rush Limbaugh (and other verbal gaffes) to lackluster fundraising. I actually don't think the party insiders gave Steele a fair shot -- but hey, we work in a cutthroat business!


In the meantime, famed national pundit Charlie Cook's "Cook Report" notes that there are four gubernatorial battles during O'Malley's 2011 term: West Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri and Louisiana. He rates WV and KY as leaning Democratic, while Missouri is rated as Likely Republican. Louisiana falls under "solid" Republican. Unless something funny happens, I presume this is the context through which O'Malley's performance will be judged. But, luckily for our Governor, he may be aided by political winds blowing at his back in at least two of the states.

Furthermore, the West Virginia Gazette notes that the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, acting Gov. Ray Tomblin, is heading into the homestretch with a large cash advantage:
Democrat Earl Ray Tomblin has raised more and spent less than Republican Bill Maloney in the state's special election for governor, leaving him with nearly $1 million on hand as the campaign heads into its final month.

Tomblin, who is state Senate president and acting as governor, pulled in more than $1.25 million -- more than three times what Maloney raised -- between May 27 and Aug. 22, according to campaign finance reports filed Friday.
According to the AP, the October 8 race has also already drawn competing television advertising from both the RGA and the DGA:
The Republican Governors Association launched TV and radio spots Tuesday, attacking acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

But GOP nominee Bill Maloney is the target in another TV ad airing Tuesday. It comes from America Works USA, a group funded by the Democratic Governors Association.
Now, of course, political parties and their leaders can only do so much to try and alter a given candidate's chances -- but that doesn't stop pundits from assessing their performance. With that backdrop, O'Malley is presumably weighing his options for life after Maryland.

Maryland Juice will keep tabs on these races, but in the meantime, here are some excerpts from a Roll Call profile of the mysterious M'OC:
The Irish-born O’Comartun couldn’t have known that one day he would be executive director of the Democratic Governors Association, but his love for policy and record of loyal service to Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) has him in a key role for the upcoming elections....

Colm (pronounced Col-um) O’Co-martun, 42, was born and raised in Dublin, where much of his extended family still lives....

After he won a visa lottery (insert luck-of-the-Irish joke here), O’Comartun packed his bags to live and work in the United States....

O’Comartun started in the mayor’s office in 2002 as a special assistant working with the vice mayor. But he was spending more and more time with O’Malley, and their relationship grew beyond their shared heritage....

O’Comartun helped tailor television ads during the governor’s re-election race to highlight the work O’Malley had done in various media markets....

Now O’Comartun is at the center of national Democratic efforts to win as many governorships as possible....

He’s not coming into the position blind. Since O’Malley has held positions in the DGA leadership for three of his first four years in office, O’Comartun has been the governor’s liaison to the committee....
Good luck gentlemen!

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