(CNN) - Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley is heading to South Carolina later this month, a move that will likely fuel further speculation that the Democratic governor is considering a White House bid in 2016.
He'll headline a conference for the South Carolina Democratic Party on March 23.
The Palmetto State is known for holding the first-in-the-South primary during presidential election years, making it a must-stop state for White House hopefuls.
O'Malley's name has been floating as a potential candidate since last year, when he became a top surrogate for President Barack Obama's re-election bid. Like many possible contenders, O'Malley has played coy in answering questions about his interest in the White House.
First elected in 2006, the governor's second term ends in January 2015, an opportune time to jump-start a presidential bid. Before becoming governor, O'Malley served as Baltimore mayor from 1999 to 2006.
He's pursued a series of popular items on the Democratic agenda, including tougher gun laws and same-sex marriage rights, the latter of which passed last year. He also served as the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association during the last cycle and now serves as the finance chairman, a spot that will keep in touch with key Democratic donors.
He's also in close contact with Obama. The president tapped O'Malley last month to be one of two co-chairmen on a panel of officials focused on defense and homeland security. He'll serve with Republican Gov. Terry Branstad of Iowa.
And the president gave O'Malley a shout-out when Obama had the nation's governors at the White House in late February. The president praised O'Malley for putting "his state on track to all but eliminate his deficit while keeping tuition down and making Maryland's public schools among the best in America five years running."
Maryland voters, however, may not think so highly of their governor. A poll conducted in late February shows the governor's approval ratings are on the decline. Forty-nine percent of voters approved of the job he's doing, down from 57% in 2010, according to the Washington Post survey.
As for 2016, the poll shows former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the overwhelming favorite in O'Malley's state, with 56% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents saying they would support her if she decides to run. Meanwhile, 18% back Vice President Joe Biden, 8% support O'Malley and 4% choose New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
South Carolina won't be the first early state O'Malley has stepped foot in during the last year. In September, the Maryland governor made headlines when he keynoted Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin's annual steak fry in September as he campaigned for Obama. The move again prompted questions about 2016, which he carefully dodged by saying his focus was getting the president re-elected.
The buzz surrounding O'Malley's upcoming stop in South Carolina is just one more sign that the 2016 race is gearing up. Speculation also simmered on the Republican front when Sen. Marco Rubio headlined a fundraiser in Iowa for Gov. Branstad in November. Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, another potential 2016 candidate, will keynote an event in Iowa in April.
– CNN's Paul Steinhauser and Peter Hamby contributed to this report.
democrats will have to have another ethnic minority canidate..ireland dont count
For the guy that raised spending by 30% during a prolonged economic crisis, Marylanders hope he simply stays in South Carolina. This is the same guy that presided over the sky-high murder rates in Baltimore as mayor (they dropped when his heavy handed tactics failed and were dropped). The same guy who's city of Baltimore education system casually lost 56million. The same guy who forced 12 building inspectors to retire because 4 were taking kickbacks and he was preparing to run for governor. This is the same guy that is legislating wind-power despite damaging the environment and forcing rate-payers to pay for the project which is owned by his friends. This is the same guy with 25 tax increases and ZERO cuts in spending.
STAY IN SOUTH CAROLINA, Marty! Poor leadership has damaged the state of Maryland enough already.
Better think it over and ask Hillary because if she runs why waste your time,money and for that matter goes for any and all republican nominees as well including your fat idol Christie ..Take notes republicans on this posters procrastination and after Christie gets indicted on corruption,bribery charges stemming from his dirty past as NJs AG they'll be no viable candidate from the republicans to run against her and you know it!!
1. With Hillary and Joe in the race, I don't think he stands a chance. But everyone deserves their shot, I guess.
2. Santorum? Really? That guy needs to give up. Even if he got nominated, he could never be elected.
As for 2016, the poll shows former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the overwhelming favorite in O'Malley's state, with 56% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents saying they would support her if she decides to run.
Truthfully, it's too early to tell about O'Malley or know who the others will be, but I do know who I won't be voting for.
O'Malley is a good man. 2016 is a long way off, too early to make any predictions.
After reading these blogs for a few months, now I understand why the left are called "useful idiots."
Gov 0'malley i dont think you have a chance for the 2016 race the women is coming out for hillary if she runs for president not you women always out due he men in races like this.
Hi, my name is Martin O'Malley. I am here in South Carolina to take your guns and raise your taxes. In Maryland we have successfully driven every private industry out of the state. The latest is Beretta. I Pray to god every day to give us more Federal government jobs. Thanks and I look forward to the 2016 primaries!
@Woman In California:
Make no mistake about it, you'll see the president out there bringing his base to her just as she bought her base to them. Bottom line: the dinner between the Obama's and the Clinton's is just "doing business" as usual.
I really enjoyed your entire post. And you are 100% correct. They (we) have always needed each other, and treat each other accordingly with respect and dignity. It's something GOPers just don't get. I doubt they ever will get it.
He's my governer, regrettably. I have never seen such a pandering political hack in my entire life; he represents the worst of what a monkey-see, monkey-do partisan politican could ever be. It's hard for me to figure out which of the past 2 MD governers I disliked most: Ehrlich was a tool of the far right, O'Malley of the far left. Someone save us from this revolting duopoly......we need someone cut out of the mold of Ron Paul.
This Governor will get rid of babies (abortion) but just got rid of the death penalty for horrendous crimes.
That in and of itself is disgusting.
He has never had an original thought! He is strictly party line, talking points, stay on script. Disgusting.
Martin Owe Money has been a complete disaster in Maryland. He has raised the taxes here and trampled the citizens' right to self-defense. He is propelling this state into disaster. Unless you want to send the entire country down the drain, find someone else.
I have voted for O'Malley because anyone's better than right wing zealot and crazy Baltimore Sun commentator ehrlich but he has done a lot of behind the back things to Maryland, including padding his friends at the PSC against his own state when it comes to BGE and continued power outages. He now wants to increase our gasoline taxes.
I would vote for him for president against any rethug but I don't think he is going to make it.