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A few weeks before the Iowa caucus, packed in a small events room above Manhattan’s The Harp Raw Bar and Grill, a crowd of mostly 20- and early 30- somethings fawned over the soft-spoken-yet-passionate Maryland heartthrob. “Are you two crushing on him also?” a young woman asked my friend and me as we watched O’Malley stand on a chair and sing about togetherness and love and the American dream. Why yes, in fact. Yes we were.

I’ve been a fan of Martin O’Malley for a while now. The political dreamboat is all of America’s hopes and dreams bundled up in a hot, singing, guitar-playing package of salty, Irish goodness. He has long been a champion of alternative energy, as governor of Maryland he abolished the death penalty for being outdated, cruel, and ineffective, he has always been a defender of LGBT civil rights, and he  generally hits most other liberal g-spots. My knowledge and appreciation of his record combined with my vault of opinions on public policy, I went into our introduction feeling comfortable I could talk to him like an intelligent human.

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When I went in for a question and selfie, I had a whole conversation in mind. We were going to discuss climate change and civil rights, we were going to bond over our love for Woody Guthrie, cry together over the limits and possibilities of American patriotism, and, by the end of it, I was to be his greatest, most trusted confidante. He would lean over and whisper sweet, sweet political nothings before offering to pose for a photo with his new best friend.

Instead, I was face-to-face with his hunkalicious visage and his dreamy politics and what came out was “I *sputter* love you *sputter sputter* meaning your politics *cough* you’re perfect *tiny gasp* can I have a selfie?” And he, being a creature of the utmost kindness and humility, said “of course” and put his hand on the shoulder of the insane, stammering sack of feelings and took a photo with me. And gosh darn if it wasn’t delightful as all hell.

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So, while he may not be winning in Iowa, he’s forever winning in my heart. I’ll just leave you all with this video of O’Malley crooning in a diner.

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Images via Facebook

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Taia is a fabulous human who is working and writing in New York City. She writes about politics, reproductive rights, and pop culture. When not writing she likes to sleep, read Carl Sagan, and do as many squats as her legs can handle. Follow her on Twitter @taiahandlin and Facebook as Taia Handlin.

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