In it, but not of it. TPM DC

WASHINGTON — Can a lesser-known upstart really defeat a titan of Democratic politics like Hillary Clinton?

The answer, of course, is yes. In 2008 his name was Barack Obama.

But Martin O'Malley is no Barack Obama, and such a comparison suffers from several key limitations that illustrate how much steeper a hill O'Malley has to climb than the first-term Illinois senator did six years ago. His odds may depend more on Clinton imploding rather than replicating the Obama formula of gradually chipping away at her lead to victory.

Here are four reasons O'Malley isn't shaping up to be the Obama of 2016.

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WASHINGTON — When Harry Reid retires in 2017 after serving for 12 years as Senate Democratic leader, the calculating and blunt-spoken Nevadan will leave behind a legacy that could end up transforming the United States far beyond his wildest dreams — or worst nightmares.

For now, his contributions to passing Obamacare — an arduous task that required the votes of all 60 Democratic senators in late 2009 — stand as his most far-reaching achievement, paving the way for more than 16 million Americans to gain health coverage. It was the sort of bill that presidents had been trying to pass for nearly a century, and most credit its enactment to President Barack Obama.

But in the long-term, the former boxer who became known for his iron-fisted rule over the Senate as majority leader may be remembered most for deploying the so-called "nuclear option" on Nov. 21, 2013, to abolish the filibuster for most nominations, and arguably setting the stage for killing the 60-vote threshold entirely.

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