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O'Malley hires ex-Clinton staffer ahead of likely presidential run

Eying a presidential run in 2016, the Maryland governor has hired a former advisor to Hillary Clinton to lead policy development.
Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley arrives for a rally at the War Memorial Building on Nov. 3, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland.
Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley arrives for a rally at the War Memorial Building on Nov. 3, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Eying a presidential run in 2016, outgoing Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has hired a former adviser to Hillary Clinton to lead policy development at his political action committee.

O’Malley has only two more months left in office in Annapolis, but his Washington-based O'Say Can You See PAC is adding staff. One major addition is Sarah Miller, who served on the policy team of Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign and was a close aide to longtime Clinton confidant John Podesta at the Center for American Progress, a leading liberal think tank.

Miller was brought on as Policy Director about two months ago, but her hiring escaped public notice until now.

O’Malley spokesperson Lis Smith confirmed the hiring, but declined to comment or make Miller available for an interview. While O’Malley brought on other veteran Democratic strategists -- including Smith, a former top Obama and Bill de Blasio staffer -- ahead of the 2014 midterm elections, the timing of Miller's hiring is another signal that the governor is preparing to run in 2016.

If O’Malley decides to run for president, he’d likely face off against former secretary of state Clinton, who is also eyeing a bid.

At the Center for American Progress, Miller served as a speechwriter and policy adviser to Podesta, who founded the think tank before moving to the White House as counselor to President Obama late last year. Podesta served as Bill Clinton’s White House chief of staff and will likely hold a very senior role in another Clinton presidential campaign. After CAP, Miller joined the Treasury Department, but has remained close to Podesta.

O’Malley, who says he is seriously considering a presidential bid, has a policy record in Maryland that could excite progressives. And lately, he’s been vocal in taking the liberal positions on issues of the day. He came out for net neutrality just before President Obama made his own announcement on the matter, and called on Congress to vote down the Keystone XL pipeline ahead of a much-watched vote this week.

In a Thanksgiving themed op-ed published in Time magazine Thursday, O’Malley lists the people he’s grateful for, from his family to police and firefighters. “It’s these people that remind me that we all have a responsibility to advance the common good, to uplift the dignity of each individual, and to understand that we are all in this together,” he wrote.

On Thursday, former Virginia senator Jim Webb became the first Democrat to officially declare his intentions to explore a White House bid.