O'Malley hires political director
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Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has hired a former Obama aide to be his political director as he prepares to launch a likely campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

A spokeswoman confirmed that Karine Jean-Pierre had been hired as O’Malley’s national political director.

Jean-Pierre was the deputy battleground states director for President Obama’s reelection bid in 2012, and before that worked in the White House as regional political director for the Office of Political Affairs. She also worked on Obama and John Edwards's 2008 campaigns.

She has experience with many of the progressive candidates and groups whose supporters might be inclined to support O’Malley. She managed Letitia James’s 2013 runoff campaign for public advocate in New York and has worked for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Reproductive Freedom Initiative.

The New York Times was the first to report her hiring on Thursday.

O’Malley appears to be close to launching a challenge to Clinton, the race’s front-runner. But polls suggest overtaking the former secretary of State will be a significant challenge.

Though many marquee former Obama staffers have joined Hillary Clinton’s campaign, others are dispersing to her challengers. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is running for the Democratic nomination, has hired a firm that includes several members of Obama’s 2008 digital staff to help him reach the small-amount donors he says will power his campaign.