If Martin O'Malley harbors any doubts about running for president against Hillary Rodham Clinton, he now has a viable alternative.
That option arrived Monday when Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski announced plans to retire. For more than a year, O'Malley, a former Maryland governor, has explored what looks to be a longshot bid for the Democratic Party's nomination in 2016.
If O'Malley is intent on returning to elected office, he now faces a choice.
He could run for a Senate seat in which he'd be an early favorite, or mount a presidential bid in which he would begin as a significant underdog.
O'Malley allies said the prospect of running for an open Senate seat in a state where Democrats have a large edge among registered voters is sure to be tempting.
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