Is Chris Van Hollen Running for the Senate So He Can Run for President?

By Barone, Michael | Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The, March 5, 2015 | Go to article overview

Is Chris Van Hollen Running for the Senate So He Can Run for President?


Barone, Michael, Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The


Maryland Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen has announced that he will run for the Senate seat being vacated by Barbara Mikulski, who is not seeking re-election in 2016. Open Senate seats don't come up often in Maryland: The last one was in 2006, when Paul Sarbanes retired after 30 years in the Senate; the last ones before that were in 1986, when Republican Charles Mathias retired, and 1962, when Republican John Marshall Butler retired. So the current open seat race is only the fourth in 54 years. No wonder it's tempting, and all six of Van Hollen's Maryland Democratic House colleagues have been reported as interested in running. Certainly the Democratic nominee will be favored to win in a state that voted 62 percent for Barack Obama in 2012, even if Republican Larry Hogan just won the race for governor.

But it is by no means certain that Van Hollen will be the Democratic nominee. Maryland has the fourth highest black percentage of any state, and in the 2006 Senate primary a competent black candidate, Congressman Kweisi Mfume, came close to beating a competent white candidate, Congressman (now Senator) Ben Cardin in the Democratic primary: Cardin won by a 44 percent to 41 percent margin. Currently Maryland has two competent black Democratic House members, Elijah Cummings and Donna Edwards, either of whom could be a formidable candidate, capable of winning especially if another competent white candidate, like Congressman John Sarbanes or Congressman John Delaney, runs.

Van Hollen currently has a safe House seat, which voted 62 percent for Barack Obama in 2012. He is ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee and has been appointed to party leadership posts, chairing the House Democrats' campaign committee in the 2008 and 2010 cycles. …

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