O'Malley to back brother as Democratic party chairman

Peter O'Malley has been campaign aide, chief of staff to Balto. Co. exec

February 02, 2011|By Annie Linskey, The Baltimore Sun

Gov. Martin O'Malley will nominate his younger brother and long-time political advisor Peter O'Malley to lead Maryland's Democratic Party, according to several top Democrats.

The governor will forward his pick for chairman at a meeting set for March, the sources said, and state Democratic officials will have to vote to approve the nomination. In Maryland, the governor's nomination has typically been selected as the leader of his party.

A top Democrat said the governor expects Peter O'Malley to build the party as it "prepares for the successful re-elections" of Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin and President Barack Obama in 2012. The source not authorized to speak about the nomination.

Gov. O'Malley would not comment on the nomination last night.

"We're working on the State of the State," he said, referring to the address he is set to deliver to the Maryland General Assembly Thursday. Rick Abbruzzese, a spokesman, also would not confirm the move. Peter O'Malley could not be immediately reached.

Most recently Peter, 40, was one of the top aides on his brother's gubernatorial campaign, a job that included reaching out to other Democratic candidates. O'Malley won the race by more than 14 percentage points.

Peter O'Malley started on his brother's gubernatorial campaign last April, and made $8,400 a month.

Before that, Peter O'Malley spent three years as chief of staff to popular Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. Smith was term limited and could not run again last year.

In the Smith administration, Peter was viewed as a "talented administrator" with "with outstanding organizational skills," Don Mohler, a former Smith spokesman who is now chief of staff to Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, told The Sun last year.

The job included advising the county executive on political issues, set his schedule and served as the administration's contact with other elected leaders in the area, Mohler said.

Peter cut his teeth in politics managing Martin O'Malley's 1999 mayoral race. The two brothers look nearly identical, and Peter is known to be bright and personable.

Current Democratic Party chairwoman Susan Turnbull said Wednesday that she will step down at the party's March meeting in Prince George's county. "It's all pretty cool and I'm very fortunate," Turnbull said of her two years leading the party.

Turnbull said she will focus on several charities, including Jewish Women International, a group that focuses on domestic violence.

Baltimore Sun reporter Julie Bykowicz contributed to this report.

annie.linskey@baltsun.com

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