Chris Van Hollen, future Speaker of the House? -- Gazette.Net


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This story was updated on Feb. 26, 2013.

A new report says one of Maryland’s longtime representatives could be the next Democratic Speaker of the House.

The New Republic describes Christopher Van Hollen Jr. (D-Dist. 8) of Kensington as a rising star, poised for a new position in the House as the Democratic party approaches a shift in leadership.

“From the 2011 debt ceiling negotiations to early January’s fiscal cliff agreement to the latest sequestration wrangles, Van Hollen has emerged as the Democrats’ leading budgetary strategist on Capitol Hill,” wrote The New Republic.

The New Republic says Van Hollen ran a “startlingly vigorous grassroots campaign” in 2002 against Del. Mark Kennedy Shriver (D-Dist. 15), though Shriver had help from uncle and former U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and future advisors to President Obama’s 2008 campaign, David Axelrod and David Plouffe.

Van Hollen’s successful 2002 bid was “a nearly perfect campaign,” Plouffe told The New Republic.

Van Hollen won re-election to a sixth term in Maryland’s 8th District last year, with much of his support coming from Montgomery County voters.

Soon after the election, attention turned towards the “fiscal cliff’”and looming federal budget cuts. Van Hollen was part of a congressional “supercommittee” that failed to agree on a deficit reduction plan in 2011, but renewed his calls for action late last year.

Federal budget cuts “would not be good for the country, and certainly would not be good for Maryland,” Van Hollen said in November.

According to The New Republic, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California has awarded Van Hollen “leadership responsibilities that would invite hostility from his colleagues were he not so highly respected by them as well.”

With Hollen’s access to Pelosi and Vice President Joe Biden, The New Republic paints him as an influential figure and a front-runner for Speaker of the House, if the Democratic party should reclaim it.

Bridgett Frey, a spokesperson for Van Hollen, said the representative “remains focused on his work before him in this Congress.”

Van Hollen commented on the potential title of “Mr. Speaker” to The New Republic.

“I think in politics you have to devote yourself to the moment,” he said, “but also be prepared to take advantage of opportunities that may come up.”

scarignan@gazette.net