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National Journal: O'Malley, McDonnell Eyeing National Stage

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As we move further into the 2012 election cycle, two governors in the D.C. area are playing increasingly high-profile roles. Virginia's governor Bob McDonnell chairs the Republican Governor's Association and Maryland's governor Martin O'Malley chairs the Democratic Governor's Association. Beyond that, McDonnell has been mentioned as a possible Vice Presidential candidate for the Republicans this year, and O'Malley has been mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate in 2016. Reid Wilson, editor in chief of the National Journal Hotline discusses their prospects.

Why did McDonnell rate No. 2 on your list of potential Republican VP candidates?

"There's not a path for Republicans to win the presidency that does not include winning Virginia and Bob McDonnell is exactly the kind of person that can help the Republicans win. He's got a 60-something percent approval rating in the state, he's hugely popular, and he's good with conservatives. If Mitt Romney is the presidential nominee, he's got to do some healing with the conservative side of the party, and Bob McDonnell is the kind of person that can help him do that."

What kind of role is McDonnell playing this primary season?

He's playing a larger role with Republicans running for governor. Being the head of the Republican Governor's Association gives him the opportunity to go around and meet with big donors and activists -- the kind of relationships he would need to have a wider national profile. Mitt Romney was actually the head of the Republican Governor's Association before he decided to run for President in 2008, so this is a position that has a little bit of history for helping Republicans move to that national level.

What are O'Malley's prospects on the national stage?

He too is using his position to go around and meet with the sort of big donors who bankroll a presidential campaign. Of course, Democrats will say that they have to focus on getting the current President re-elected first, but in the long run, O'Malley is among the top couple of candidates that are mentioned as likely 2016 candidates.

One of the funny sub-battles going on right now is the fight between O'Malley and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. It's not an overt fight, but they're sort of eyeing each other as challengers in 2016.

What impact will O'Malley's push for gay marriage and tax increases have beyond his governorship?

"I think gay marriage is going to start playing the same role on the Democratic side -- especially in 2016, when we've had four more years to talk about it -- as something like abortion or other social issues play on the Republican side right now.

Gay marriage hasn't always been a key to winning a Democratic primary -- in fact, President Obama has not said he supports same-sex marriage -- but by that point it may become a touchstone for any Democrat who wants to mount a serious presidential campaign.

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