In the years since Democrat Chris Van Hollen won Maryland’s 8th District U.S. House seat in 2003, he has risen to leadership roles on Capitol Hill and within his party. He was once reportedly being groomed to be the next Democratic Speaker of the House should the party regain the majority.
Now, Van Hollen, 57, comes to his bid for the Democratic nomination to succeed retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski with a reputation as a legislator who is dependably liberal as well as a team player who can get things done. In that regard, Van Hollen is a fitting bearer of Mikulski’s Democratic legacy.
His record shows him as willing to cross party lines to improve the country and serve his Maryland constituents. Often called a master of details, he served in 2011 on the “super committee” charged with crafting a deficit reduction plan. Although the effort failed, Van Hollen got good reviews for his efforts to reach a compromise. And the need for deficit reform is just as necessary now as it was then.
Van Hollen has been a steady and consistent supporter of Israel, and his advocacy helped keep the case of Alan Gross in the spotlight until the Maryland resident, who spent five years in captivity, was released from a Cuban prison in December 2014.
His opponent, Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.), while from the same liberal camp as Van Hollen, comes up short in two significant areas. First, she does not have the reputation of being a team player, which is so crucial to consensus building in politics. And even more disconcerting, she cannot be regarded as Israel’s friend — a particularly sensitive issue for our community. Edwards’ long record of refusing to sign congressional letters castigating Palestinian incitement (which were signed by Van Hollen) and her repeated refusal to back floor votes in support of the Jewish state raise very serious concerns for us.
We note that others agree that Van Hollen is the preferred candidate. He has been endorsed by African- American leaders, including Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett and Rushern Baker, executive of Edwards’ home base of Prince George’s County. Progressive former gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur has declared her support for Van Hollen as has Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh. State Sen. Cheryl Kagan of Montgomery County and former Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend have likewise given Van Hollen the nod.
This is not a tough choice. Based upon his exemplary record and his history of sensitivity to and support for issues of interest and concern to our community, we enthusiastically support Chris Van Hollen for the U.S. Senate in Maryland’s April 26 primary.