The governor's brother is leaving his post as the chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party to become Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's chief of staff, the mayor's office announced Thursday.
Peter O'Malley will start work as Rawlings-Blake's chief of staff tomorrow, according to a news release.
"Peter will help deliver results that benefit the people of Baltimore -- that is why he is the best choice to be Chief of Staff in my Administration," Rawlings-Blake said. "Peter is an effective and proven manager with great integrity who has proven his ability as a public servant."
O'Malley, who worked for the city from 2000-2 and later served as former Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr.'s chief of staff, said he was "honored" to have been chosen for the position.
"I think she's a very serious leader," said O'Malley. "She makes a decision and does the hard work
Rawlings-Blake's previous chief of staff, Sophie Dagenais, former corporate attorney and developer, stepped down in March.
The timing is awkward: Peter O'Malley was named to be the chair of the state Democratic Party two months ago.
Yvette Lewis will serve as the party's acting chair and Gov. O'Malley urged the party's executive board to grant her the position permanently at its next meeting, according to a news release. Lewis, a political veteran from Prince George's County, currently is the party's first vice chair.
O'Malley, an attorney and Mt. Washington resident, said that the two years he spent working for the Citistat office while his brother was mayor "was the best job I ever had."
"You go to work in the morning and you see problems, and when you get to work you can fix them," he said.
He said his time in Baltimore County and work with the state party would benefit the city.
"I think it's good to have those relationships with the surrounding jurisdictions because a lot of our issues don't just stop at the border," he said.
City Councilman Robert W. Curran, who is related to the O'Malleys by marriage, praised the move, saying Peter O'Malley would "be a good fit" and wouldn't "need any on the job training."
"He knows the city and he has the ability to reach out to the other subdivisions," Curran said.
During the annual Democratic party gala Monday night, O'Malley thanked his brother for his hard work but gave no hint that Peter would be moving on.
Peter O'Malley was praised by several officials, and roasted by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller.
The Senate President, from Prince George's County, said that during the 2010 election Peter O'Malley was "barked at" by his brother, the governor.
Also, Miller vastly understated Peter's campaign role, saying the governor's brother frequently called to round up yard signs. "He was a sign man," Miller said. "And now he's the head of the Democratic Party."
Peter O'Malley, who has worked on his brother's campaign, should be a political boost for Rawlings-Blake, who faces a competitive primary this year in her first citywide election as mayor. Rawlings-Blake was elevated to the mayor's office last year after Sheila Dixon resigned.
But at least one challenger to Rawlings-Blake said the move raises eyebrows.
"It's not a show of strength," said Dan Fee, campaign manager for former city planning director Otis Rolley.
"It's clear that she recognizes that she has a real problem, that people are deeply dissatisfied because there are too few jobs and too much crime," he said. "Rather than dealing with this [campaign] with substance, they're looking to do it politically. How does that help the people of Baltimore?"
~Annie Linksey and Julie Scharper