Kumar P. Barve, a Democrat who represents Montgomery County in the Maryland House of Delegates, announced on Monday that he plans to run for the U.S. House of Representatives seat being vacated by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).
"I am ready to take my experience working for economic growth and fighting for our middle class to the federal level," Barve said in an e-mail to supporters. "This isn’t going to be easy. Offering bold and innovative proposals to rebuild our middle class and grow our economy never is."
Just one week ago, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) unexpectedly announced that she will retire in 2016 -- setting off a scramble among Democrats to find her replacement. Van Hollen announced last week that he will run for the seat, and Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) is expected to announce on Tuesday that she will also run. So now there's another scramble underway to replace those politicians in Congress.
Van Hollen represents Maryland's 8th Congressional District, which includes chunks of Montgomery, Frederick and Carroll counties. Although a number of prominent Democrats have expressed interest in Van Hollen's seat, Barve is the first to formally announce that he will run.
Barve, 56, has been a member of the Maryland House of Delegates for 24 years and was the chamber's majority leader from 2003 until earlier this year. He was the first Indian-American to serve in a state legislature, according to his e-mail to supporters. Barve is now the chairman of the House Environment and Transportation Committee -- which on Friday voted down legislation proposed by Gov. Larry Hogan (R) that would have ended a requirement that major counties collect a fee to fund cleaning pollution from storm water before it reaches the Chesapeake Bay. The fee has been derided by critics as a "rain tax."
In announcing his run, Barve pointed to his work in the state legislature to improve the state's public school system, invest in biotechnology and information technology, increase the minimum wage, expand health insurance availability and keep college tuition from dramatically increasing. Barve is an accountant and the chief financial officer at Environmental Management Services Inc., an environmental and hazardous waste remediation company.
In November 2007, Barve was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. In a roadside breath test, Barve registered a blood alcohol level of 0.10, slightly more than the legal limit. In 2008, Barve pleaded guilty and received unsupervised probation as part of his plea agreement.
Barve will likely face competition for Van Hollen's seat from a number of other Democrats. Those who are considering a run include state Sen. Jamie Raskin (Montgomery), state Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (Montgomery), former Montgomery school board and council member Valerie Ervin, former state delegate candidate Will Jawando and Marriott executive and former news anchor Kathleen Matthews.
"The first week of the vacancy is all about getting your name in the paper -- and the second week you realize you have to raise two or three million dollars," said Raskin, who said that he's "very fired up" about the race but has yet to decide if he will run. "This is going to be a marathon, not a sprint."
Maryland's congressional districts were drawn after the last U.S. Census under the watch of former governor Martin O'Malley (D) -- and they are considered some of the most meandering and confusing in the country. Seven of the eight districts, including the 8th, are considered safe for Democrats, although Rep. John Delaney -- who represents the 6th District, which includes part of Montgomery County and Western Maryland -- faced tough competition from a Republican in November. Prominent Republicans are closely watching to see if Delaney runs for Senate.