(CNN) - Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley of Maryland will unleash a blistering critique of his Republican counterpart in South Carolina, Nikki Haley, in remarks to a Democratic party conference in Charleston on Saturday.
O'Malley plans to attack Haley, who is up for re-election next year, as "tea party Republican" who cares more about voter ID laws than expanding health care access and education for South Carolinians, according to early excerpts of his speech provided to CNN.
"Spare me your ideology," O'Malley will say. "Show me how your choices are working for all of us, and for all of our families. Now, some of these new tea party Republican governors are funny in this regard, aren't they? They run on a platform claiming government isn't working. Then when they're in office, their own failure to do the job proves their point."
"Your current Governor - bless her heart - is a case in point," he is to say, mischievously deploying that sweetly-delivered southern putdown.
In his speech to the South Carolina Democratic Issues Conference, O'Malley will spotlight the state's 8.7% unemployment rate; South Carolina's underwhelming high school graduation rate; Haley's refusal to accept federal money to expand Medicaid; and last year's spectacular data breach at the South Carolina Department of Revenue that left millions vulnerable to identity theft.
"How's that all working for South Carolina?," he will ask. "Facts are facts. At 8.7%, South Carolina has one of America's highest rates of unemployment. And the Tea Party still isn't hiring."
If O'Malley's speech is any indicator, Haley is certain to become a punching bag for ambitious Democrats traipsing through the state over the next few years trying to charm the party faithful. The Maryland governor is thought to have designs on the White House, and South Carolina's primary is traditionally a pivotal contest in the presidential nomination fight.
Asked about O'Malley's salvo, Haley adviser Tim Pearson said the state's unemployment rate has dropped two points since Haley took office in 2010, while it went up three points in Maryland since O'Malley took office in 2006 (though that period includes the national economic downturn that hit in 2008).
"He should go back to Maryland where he quite successfully legalized gambling, gay marriage, the end of the death penalty, and hiked taxes on everyone and everything he could think of," Pearson said of O'Malley. "And you can quote me on the record with all of that."
The pragmatism-vs.-ideology theme is one of O'Malley's favorites, and it's likely to be a centerpiece of his message if he decides to seek the presidency in 2016.
On Saturday, he plans to mention Maryland's high median income; state investments in roads, schools and clean water; and Maryland's public school system, which has been ranked number one in the nation for five straight years by Education Week.
"You and I, South Carolina and Maryland, stand at the threshold of a new era of American progress," he will say.
While O'Malley is little known outside of his own state, political insiders in Annapolis and Washington assume that the telegenic and well-connected governor is already taking steps to seek the Democratic nomination in a few year's time.
Officially, O'Malley is speaking Saturday in his capacity as finance chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, which is expected to help fund state Sen. Vincent Sheehen's re-match against Haley in next year's governor's race.
But his speech to a conference organized by the South Carolina Democratic Party will be an early indicator of his rapport with some of the state's most influential activists.