Potential Democratic presidential candidate and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley delivers remarks at the South Carolinna Democratic Party state convention April 25, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina.
Win McNamee—Getty Images
May 15, 2015 11:21 AM EDT

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is ramping up his all-but-certain presidential campaign, leasing office space in in Baltimore for a campaign headquarters and asking donors and bundlers to begin serious fundraising.

Both those moves start the 15-day clock for O’Malley to officially announce his candidacy on May 30.

O’Malley has laid the groundwork for a presidential bid in Iowa and New Hampshire in recent months, leaning on his liberal record as governor, where he supported gay marriage, gun control and an end to the death penalty. He has emerged as a progressive challenger to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, differing with her stance on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and her past platform.

Now, O’Malley is making his strongest indications yet that he plans to challenge Clinton for the Democratic nomination. In a series of conference calls on Thursday night, he rallied his supporters and reiterated what has long been a message for the candidate-in-waiting: that the country needs new, forward-looking leadership with progressive values.

In the about half-dozen separate calls over the course of the night, O’Malley spoke with alums of the 1984 and 1987 Gary Hart presidential campaigns, fundraisers and bundlers, former staffers, and connections in key states throughout the country, people on the calls said.

Read more: What Martin O’Malley Hopes to Learn From Gary Hart

“He made it very clear that he is more inclined than ever to do it,” said one person. “This was the last box to check in his process.”

On Friday morning, O’Malley supporters began calling a network of donors around the country to support his likely campaign.

Presidential candidates have 15 days from the start of official candidacy activities—like raising and spending sums of money north of $5,000, or making statements that refer to themselves as a candidate—before they must announce.

O’Malley leased 7200 square feet of office space in downtown Baltimore on Friday and is preparing to move 40 employees from his PAC to what is likely to be his new campaign headquarters. The Baltimore Sun first reported the move, and an O’Malley aide confirmed it to TIME.

In his Thursday calls with supporters, O’Malley said he would announce his decision whether to run for president on May 30 in Baltimore. A registration page to attend his likely launch at omalleyannouncement.com says “Paid for by O’Malley for President” at the bottom.

O’Malley’s decision to set his likely campaign launch and headquarters in Baltimore indicates just how willing he is to attach his political fate to the restive city where he served as mayor from 1999 through 2006. He has consistently pointed to his accomplishments as the city’s administrator and the reduction in crime, but critics say his aggressive police policies worsened police relations with the black community.

A round of staff hiring in the last few weeks has increased speculation about O’Malley’s announcement, with the former governor bringing on more press staff and a national political director, Obama alum Karine Jean-Pierre, last week.

For the next 15 days before his Baltimore announcement, O’Malley will be rallying his network.

“He’s assessed the state of the nation as he sees it and the need for new leadership options,” said another person who was on the calls. “I think he’s ready to go.”

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