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Crank up the “too soon” talks, but we may have our first “substantive” 2016 news coming out of the great state of Maryland.  Governor Martin O’Malley, long discussed as a 2016 candidate, is now openly discussing the next presidential election.

In a brief interview with the Baltimore Sun, the Democratic governor said:

I need to be spending a lot more energy and time giving serious consideration and preparation to what—if anything—I might have to offer should I decide to run for president in 2016.

Oh boy.  The comments should come as no surprise though considering O’Malley has made trips to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina in the past year; all of which are early caucus and primary states.  O’Malley has been tested in several early 2016 polls but has struggled in the lower tier of candidates (along with fellow Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts and Senator Mark Warner of Virginia) even though he appears to be the most active campaigner.

Still, O’Malley does have some potential.  If Hillary Clinton does run and presuming she doesn’t clear the field entirely, the Democrats will be struggling to find a progressive candidate as an Elizabeth Warren candidacy does appear unlikely.

Enter O’Malley who has earned progressive praise for his role in marriage equality, the ending of the death penalty in Maryland and installing a progressive tax scale.  In fact, when compared to another likely 2016 candidate in New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, O’Malley has earned far more accolades from liberals such as Markos Moulitsas of the DailyKos.

Yet, the downside to an O’Malley bid appears to be excitement.  Sure he fits the bill and has been a regular on the Sunday morning talk shows, but others can not help but compare his presidential quest to the failed run of Tim Pawlenty in the 2012 Republican nomination battle.  While he does fit the bill of a presidential candidate and certainly has the zeal for it, he just doesn’t register when comparing to the mega personalities of Clinton and Joe Biden or have a last name as well-known as Cuomo.

Also working against O’Malley is the fact that he will be out of office starting in January of 2015 as he is term-limited as governor.  While he would have the advantage of not having to deal with political office and instead can just throw himself into Iowa and New Hampshire.  But for someone with as little national name recognition as O’Malley, he has to try and spark the grassroots in the same way that Howard Dean did with progressives in 2004.

Then again, O’Malley doesn’t appear to have that full-throated populism that helped (and partly eventually sunk) Dean’s candidacy.  O’Malley’s best bet could very well be hoping that longtime Senator Barbara Mikulski retires in 2016 in which he can be part of Washington and build a legislative profile.

Nonetheless, we are slowly getting more news regarding the 2016 presidential election and the ball will start rolling more and more as the months go by.  With a wide open race in 2016, it will be a mad dash for politicians to get the early edge.