The line of prospective contenders for Rep. Chris Van Hollen’s 8th District Congressional seat got a little longer this week, as Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez (D-Montgomery) said she is seriously considering the race.
“I’m considering it very positively,” said Gutierrez, 73, a former Montgomery County Board of Education member who has represented Van Hollen’s old State House District 18 (Kensington, Garrett Park and Chevy Chase) since 2002. “It’s a rare opportunity to raise issues at the Congressional level that are important that we speak out on.”
She said she places education, immigration and women’s issues at the top of her list.
Gutierrez becomes one of at least a dozen Montgomery politicians who have expressed interest in the seat, which opened when Van Hollen announced last month that he would run to replace the retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md).
With the April Democratic primary now a year away, the pace of activity is starting to pick up. Del. Kumar Barve (D-Montgomery) has already formally announced his candidacy. Former Montgomery County Council member Valerie Ervin, whose Web page says “Big Things Are Coming,” is expected to announce within the next couple of weeks, as is state Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery).
Montgomery County Council member Nancy Floreen (D-At-Large) also sounds like a candidate.
“Not officially. Still looking at it closely, more closely than I had been,” Floreen said Wednesday. “I’m very close to making a decision.”
Also possibly in the mix are Dels. Ariana Kelly and Jeff Waldstreicher, former state delegate candidate Will Jawando and Marriott executive and former WJLA anchor Kathleen Matthews.
Gutierrez, a native of El Salvador, said she will finalize her decision after the session ends and that she is not put off by the long roster of competitors. “I’ve won five elections,” she said.
Among state lawmakers interested in the race, Gutierrez’s legislative district has the second-highest number of 2014 primary voters (12,072), according to Maryland political analyst Adam Pagnucco. Kelly, who represents Bethesda, has the most (14,114).