Van Hollen to Stay as Chair of House Democrats' Campaign Arm

By Chris Cillizza
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 10, 2008

After bringing at least two dozen new Democrats to the House in Tuesday's elections, Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) has agreed to try to duplicate that achievement in 2010 as chair of the caucus's campaign arm. He also will take on an added role, coordinating policy decisions between the House and President-elect Barack Obama's administration.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) will formally announce Van Hollen's expanded portfolio today, according to informed party sources.

"I am looking forward to taking on these new policy responsibilities and working with the Speaker and our entire leadership team as we work with President-elect Obama to enact an agenda for change," Van Hollen said. "As we embark on this challenging legislative and political cycle, I believe more than ever that good policy makes for good politics."

While Van Hollen will stay on at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for the 2010 election cycle, it is not yet clear whether the committee's senior staff will also remain.

Van Hollen followed Rep. Rahm Emanuel as chairman of the DCCC; Emanuel will soon vacate his Illinois House seat to become Obama's chief of staff.

Van Hollen has rapidly ascended the House leadership ladder since arriving on Capitol Hill in 2002. He reached the House by defeating state Del. Mark K. Shriver -- a member of the Kennedy family -- in a hotly contested Democratic primary, and then ousting longtime Rep. Constance A. Morella (R) in the general election. In 2007, Van Hollen won a seat on the powerful Ways and Means Committee, and that same year he was chosen by Pelosi to oversee the DCCC.

Van Hollen won plaudits for his fundraising and strategic skills during the 2008 campaign -- an election that could still see three more gains, with races still uncalled in Alaska's at-large district, California's 4th district and Ohio's 15th district. DCCC officials note that, of the two dozen seats Democrats gained Tuesday, just three came in districts won by Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) in the 2004 presidential race.

House Democrats have added more than 50 seats in the last two elections, resulting in the prospect of a challenging map in 2010, as a number of first- and second-term incumbents must defend districts carried by Republican presidential nominees in recent races.

Van Hollen is regularly rumored to be interested in running for the U.S. Senate. He considered a run for the seat vacated by Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (D) in 2006, but he stepped aside in favor of Benjamin L. Cardin (D), who won the seat.

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D) is up for reelection in 2010 and has given no hint that she is considering retirement.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company