Tama, Iowa: Population 2,877. This is where former Maryland Governor and 2016 presidential candidate Martin O’Malley decided to hold a campaign event, despite a nasty winter storm. As a result, the turnout wasn’t good at all. Only one person named Kenneth braved the snow-covered roads to speak with the long shot Democratic candidate. Sarah Beckman of ABC News also made it. The event reportedly was a congenial one-on-one conversation, where Kenneth and the governor discussed how to reduce incarceration rates to the Syrian refugee crisis. Kenneth thanked the governor for taking the time to visit Tama, despite him being the only voter to show up (via Sarah Beckman):
“I’ve always used the term new Americans, not illegal immigrants,” said O’Malley on the Syrian refugee dilemma. “And I also was the first one of us to say we should accept the 65,000 refugees. We need to be a more credible and moral nation.”
Kenneth agreed, saying, “Yeah, you know a lot of those Christians that are fleeing Syria…the mayor of Swisher, Iowa said they would welcome refugees.”
O’Malley told Kenneth about Maryland’s record in helping those in need.
“When the kids were coming here from Central America, we were accepting more of those Central American refugees than any other state per capita,” said O’Malley. “So in our state, we brought together all the faith leaders…I was surprised even with the language barrier, we were able to sign up 5,000 foster families who were willing to be there…it was no small feat. We decided as leaders in our state, we were going to show the right way in how to take care of these kids.”
“Yeah, you know, it’s something I’m passionate about,” said Kenneth. “I’m also concerned about the incarceration rate. I think overall, we need to do better.”
“As governor, I got down our incarceration rate to 20 year lows, and I reduced our recidivism rate by 15 percent,” said O’Malley. “We did a lot of good stuff with re-entry, with restorative justice, having our inmates work on different stuff that connected them to the real world. One of the things that was most effective was bringing in people from prison ministry to bring together inmates and their estranged family members before they were released.”
After the hour began to wane and the conversation started to slow, Kenneth got more personal and praised O’Malley for following through with the event despite the treacherous weather.
“I give you a lot of credit for coming out here,” said Kenneth. “I’m glad you took the time.”
It was the first time Kenneth had met O’Malley in person, and he said numerous times that he enjoyed the governor’s message.
“I think you have a great platform to be running, and I think you have a great future here in Iowa,” said Kenneth. “I wish you well.
Of course, if there hadn’t been a storm, perhaps a few more people would have shown. Nevertheless, given O’Malley’s standing in the polls reaching every voter is even more critical, so meeting Kenneth on a night where most campaigns probably would have cancelled could be something chalked up as a “soft success” (for lack of a better term) for the O’Malley camp. One voter is better than no voter. After all, (and here’s where the salt gets poured in) O’Malley isn’t going to be elected president next year.
As for Kenneth, that's one dedicated voter.