Singing and Drinking with Martin O’Malley

Posted: September 8, 2015 | By: Iowa Caucus Project Staff Tagged: Blog
Martin O'Malley, democratic presidential candidate and former governor of Maryland, greets the crowd gathered at Confluence Brewing Company in Des Moines on Saturday. Photo by Sarah LeBlanc.

Martin O’Malley, democratic presidential candidate and former governor of Maryland, greets the crowd gathered at Confluence Brewing Company in Des Moines on Saturday. Photo by Sarah LeBlanc.

On Saturday night, Confluence Brewing Company in Des Moines experienced a surge in attendance with the presence of democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley. Admittedly, as O’Malley acknowledged, a few patrons came for the beer and stayed for the speech. If the lively and energetic atmosphere and the crowd’s reaction to O’Malley was any indication, however, those who stayed weren’t disappointed.

Before speaking, O’Malley took the time to pour an Iowa-brewed beer and mingle with guests, shaking hands and taking photographs while listening to their stories. As a staple of presidential campaigns, and especially crucial in Iowa, meet and greets are a common and effective method of connecting with potential voters and caucus goers while (hopefully) making an impact in the community and enhancing name recognition.

Standing on a chair, O’Malley began by cracking a couple of jokes and admitting that he was surprised at the event’s turnout. Leading with stories about his family and children, he touched extensively on his 15 years of executive experience, mentioning his progress on issues such as infrastructure, employment and education while serving as mayor of Baltimore and then Governor of Maryland. O’Malley’s comments on immigration reform, raising the minimum wage and labor unions specifically received exceptionally enthusiastic reactions from the crowd.  Noting his gradual progression from zero percent at the start of his campaign to 4 percent in the latest NBC/Marist poll, O’Malley further acknowledged that he faces tough odds in this election but welcomes the challenge. Having visited 34 of Iowa’s 99 counties so far, he certainly isn’t letting the numbers prevent him from reaching out to Iowans.

O’Malley spoke for around 20 minutes and left about 10 minutes for questions – time that members of the standing-room only crowd took advantage of. Eight people asked questions on topics including the U.S.’s high rates of incarceration, childcare, and involvement in the Middle East. Leah Walters, a recent college graduate, attended the event and questioned O’Malley on how he would confront the issue of taxing corporations. Walters, like a young volunteer who spoke before O’Malley’s arrival, said she came with friends but spoke up because she was impressed by the former governor’s speech.  Other attendees in the diverse crowd included volunteers both young and old, families, college students, young children and senior Iowans.

To end his speech, O’Malley led the crowd in singing Joe Hill, a tune recounting the tale of a labor activist who was executed by firing squad in 1915 for the murders of a grocer and his son in Salt Lake City, Utah. Descending from his chair, O’Malley took a few final questions from patrons before leaving to continue his campaign tour of Iowa. Though his current stance in the polls is not promising, we definitely haven’t heard the last of Martin O’Malley.

LeBlanc is a junior political science and journalism major from Madison, Wisconsin. She’s visited three countries in the last six months and enjoys copious amounts of Netflix, chocolate and bad puns.