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Biography

Elected: 2002, 7th term.

Born: January 10, 1959, Karachi, Pakistan

Home: Kensington

Education: Swarthmore Col., B.A. 1982, Harvard U., M.P.P. 1985, Georgetown U., J.D. 1990

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Protestant

Family: married (Katherine) , 3 children

Chris Van Hollen, first elected in 2002, is one of the most influential Democrats in Congress and was among those often mentioned as a possible future House Democratic leader before announcing in March 2015 that he would seek the Senate seat held by the retiring Barbara Mikulski. Wonky, self-assured, and telegenic, Van Hollen earned a prominent role in the Democratic House leadership after helping the party secure its majority in 2006.

The son of a Foreign Service officer, Van Hollen was born in Pakistan, and grew up around the globe, living in several countries including Sri Lanka, where his father was the U.S. ambassador. He graduated from Swarthmore College, and got a master’s degree from Harvard University and a law degree from Georgetown University. In the 1980s, he worked for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where he co-authored a report on Iraq’s use of chemical weapons. In 1990, he was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates and in 1994 to the state Senate.

In 2002, Van Hollen ran for the 8th District House seat held by liberal Republican Connie Morella since 1986. Maryland’s Democratic legislature had changed the district after the 2000 census, removing affluent Republican precincts in Potomac and adding heavily Democratic territory to the east. Van Hollen’s chief opponent in the Democratic primary was state Del. Mark Shriver, son of Sargent and Eunice Shriver, who had extensive labor support. Bolstered by the endorsement of The Washington Post, Van Hollen defeated Shriver 43%-41%, with former trade official Ira Shapiro getting 13%.

Van Hollen then had only eight weeks to campaign against Morella, a hard-working and congenial Republican with a liberal voting record suited to the district’s many Democrats. Van Hollen did not directly attack Morella, but argued that she was an enabler of the Republican majority, and that her vote to organize the House with Republicans kept in power conservatives who were out of sync with most district voters. Morella criticized Van Hollen’s record in Annapolis, including his decision to quit a Senate subcommittee over proposed budget cuts. In a race in which the two candidates together spent nearly $6 million, Van Hollen won 52%-47%.

In the House, when his party returned to the minority in 2011, Van Hollen was given the plum assignment as the ranking Democrat on the Budget Committee. He successfully established a cordial working relationship with Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., one of the GOP’s intellectual leaders. “He’s probably one of the best articulators of the Democrats’ position ... but he does it without being too partisan,” Ryan told The Baltimore Sun. The two subsequently teamed up on legislation to grant the president line-item veto authority. But Van Hollen remained a vociferous critic of Republican spending plans. He appeared on cable talk shows and gave speeches at think tanks, seeking to frame the debate over Ryan’s proposals. He argued they would undermine Medicare and that they relied too heavily on cutting spending and not enough on raising taxes on the wealthy. Van Hollen pulled together the Democratic caucus’ disparate elements to propose an alternative budget, which was defeated on a party-line vote.

On another issue, Van Hollen filed a federal lawsuit challenging Federal Election Commission regulations that allowed nonprofit groups, many of them allied with Republicans, to keep their donors anonymous. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled in April 2012 that the FEC had overstepped its authority in allowing groups that produce so-called “issue ads” to withhold the names of the people paying for the ads.

In 2011, Van Hollen served as the House Democrats’ point man in negotiations over raising the nation’s debt limit and was also named to the bipartisan “super committee” that unsuccessfully sought to craft a long-term deficit deal. He gained prominence in 2012 when Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney tapped Ryan as his running mate, and Van Hollen became the de facto explainer of his party’s objections to Ryan’s budget policies. Recognizing his sparring skills, President Barack Obama’s reelection team tapped him to help prepare Vice President Joe Biden for his debate with Ryan. Van Hollen also crisscrossed the country to campaign for candidates and was a ubiquitous TV presence during the Democratic and Republican conventions. “There are few better at explaining the choice we face in this election,” Obama's deputy campaign manager, Stephanie Cutter, told The Sun.

When Sen. Ted Cruz emerged as a major force among House conservatives, Van Hollen was among the Democrats who mocked the Texas freshman's power over GOP leaders. After Cruz opposed a border-security bill in July 2014, Van Hollen told MSNBC: “It was Senator Cruz calling the shots, and that’s why people around here are calling him ‘Speaker Cruz’ today. It means when Speaker Boehner says he’s going to get something done from now on, he’d better be checking with Senator Cruz to see if he’s gonna get the votes, because clearly the new leadership team isn’t up to the task.”

Ryan's departure from the Budget chairmanship in the 114th Congress (2015-16) brought a new chairman in Georgia's Tom Price, who has been far less willing to compromise. On the first day of the new session in January 2015, the House on a largely party-line vote approved the controversial practice of "dynamic scoring," which takes into account the economic effects of legislation into budget cost estimates. “It’s absolutely astounding that within minutes — minutes — of us being sworn in, our Republican colleagues want to pass a rule that will stack the deck in favor of trying to give another big tax cut, not to the middle class, but to millionaires,” Van Hollen said.

But Van Hollen showed he could turn on Obama's budget as well. He was influential in persuading the president to drop from his proposed budget a move to tax college savings accounts known as "529 Plans." The plans are popular with middle-class parents, and after Van Hollen reportedly telephoned Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as she flew aboard Air Force One with Obama, the idea was jettisoned.

Van Hollen’s early years in Congress portended a swift rise. He won an early legislative victory when he got a majority, including 26 Republicans, to approve his amendment to limit a plan to outsource more federal jobs. In 2005, he was appointed by then-Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, to manage candidate recruitment and its “Red to Blue” campaign plan. Working closely with the hard-driving Emanuel, the low-key and genial Van Hollen traveled to many battleground districts for hands-on candidate mentoring.

When Democrats won a majority in 2006, Van Hollen was rewarded with a seat on the powerful Ways and Means Committee. He focused on revisions to the Alternative Minimum Tax, which threatened many of his affluent constituents, changes to make prescription drugs more affordable for low-income consumers, and legislation to curb speculation and market manipulation in oil markets. On other issues, he worked with Emanuel to require lobbyists to make additional disclosure of campaign contributions. He sought more money for the region’s Metro transit system and for initiatives to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

Then-Speaker Pelosi showed her confidence in Van Hollen by appointing him to head the DCCC after Emanuel stepped down. He worked closely with her on campaign strategy in both the 2008 and 2010 political seasons. Unlike Emanuel, he developed a harmonious relationship with Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean. His goal was to try to reverse historical forces that generally produced losses for a winning party after a wave election like the one in 2006. He helped Democrats win special elections in unlikely territory—downstate Illinois; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and northeast Mississippi. He ran a skillful in-house research operation and expanded the field program. He also performed well in the most important function for any DCCC chairman—raising money. The committee took in $176 million in the 2008 election cycle, compared with $118 million for its counterpart NRCC. Overall, Democrats gained 21 seats in November 2008, many in traditionally Republican areas, and Van Hollen and the DCCC got much of the credit. Only four freshman Democrats, all in Republican-leaning areas, were defeated out of a class of 33. The Washington Post dubbed Van Hollen the party’s “Mr. Fix-It.”

After his 2008 electoral success, Van Hollen contemplated a challenge to Caucus Chairman John Larson of Connecticut, a step up the leadership ladder. But Pelosi persuaded him to stay on as DCCC chairman for the 2010 election and also gave him a new leadership post, assistant to the speaker. He remained involved on substantive issues in the 111th Congress (2009-10). In April 2009, he introduced a cap-and-dividend bill, an alternative to the Democrats’ cap-and-trade legislation that would impose a carbon tax on coal, oil and gas producers and distribute the proceeds as dividends to citizens. He was concerned about the effect the stricter cap-and-trade bill would have on members in coal states. The energy bill ultimately died in the Senate. During another major debate, on the health care insurance market overhaul, Van Hollen cosponsored a successful amendment allowing children up to age 26 to stay on their parents’ health insurance—a major talking point for Democrats defending the bill in the 2010 campaign.

When the U.S. Supreme Court in January 2010 overturned many federal restrictions on corporate involvement in campaign advertising, Van Hollen introduced a bill providing for increased disclosure requirements for corporations, which, although modified, eventually passed the House 219-206. Van Hollen also has a strong interest in foreign policy. He sponsored a successful amendment to a Pakistan aid bill in June 2009 with a provision providing for duty-free entry to goods produced in reconstruction zones in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

But much of Van Hollen’s time was necessarily spent on the DCCC’s mandate to hold or increase the Democratic majority in 2010. Sensing the national mood turning against incumbents, he said in February 2009 that his job was to “hold the line” and that there would be no “third wave.” He worked to give freshman Democrats the lead role on popular amendments. He identified 41 “endangered species” members and worked to give those with conservative districts leeway to vote against the leadership on the budget.

His job grew increasingly difficult as poll results rolled in showing an increasing number of Democratic incumbents trailing little-known Republican challengers. In August 2010, he warned that Democrats were in for “a very tough campaign season.” He contributed $1.6 million of his own campaign money to others, but he admitted after the election that he had cut off nine incumbents who could not be saved from further DCCC funding, sending $12 million to districts where Democrats still had hopes of winning in the final days. Van Hollen told The New York Times, “Just on the triage side, we believe we saved 15-20 seats.” Even so, Democrats lost 63 seats—more than either party had lost since the 1948 election.

At home, Van Hollen has almost invulnerable to challenge. When Maryland Sen. Paul Sarbanes announced his retirement in early 2005, Van Hollen gave serious thought to jumping into the multicandidate Democratic primary. But after Mikulski's surprise announcement that she would not seek another term, Van Hollen was the first to enter the race and quickly picked up support from members of his state's Democratic establishment. “People have confidence in him,” Montgomery County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett told The Sun. “He has a solid record to run on.”

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-5341

(202) 225-0375

LHOB- Longworth House Office Building Room 1707
Washington, DC 20515-2008

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-5341

(202) 225-0375

LHOB- Longworth House Office Building Room 1707
Washington, DC 20515-2008

DISTRICT OFFICE

(301) 424-3501

(301) 424-5992

51 Monroe Street Suite 507
Rockville, MD 20850-2406

DISTRICT OFFICE

(301) 424-3501

(301) 424-5992

51 Monroe Street Suite 507
Rockville, MD 20850-2406

DISTRICT OFFICE

(301) 829-2181

205 Center Street Suite 206
Mount Airy, MD 21771

DISTRICT OFFICE

(301) 829-2181

205 Center Street Suite 206
Mount Airy, MD 21771

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(301) 942-3768

10605 Concord Street Suite 202
Kensington, MD 20895

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

10605 Concord Street Suite 202
Kensington, MD 20895

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(301) 942-3768

10605 Concord Street Suite 202
Kensington, MD 20895

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

10605 Concord Street Suite 202
Kensington, MD 20895

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Ziky Ababiya
Legislative Assistant

Acquisitions

Ken Cummings
Budget Committee Analyst

Aerospace

Sarah Schenning
Legislative Director

Federico Rodriguez
Legislative Correspondent; Office Manager

Agriculture

Virdina Gibbs
Legislative Assistant

Animal Rights

Virdina Gibbs
Legislative Assistant

Appropriations

Sarah Schenning
Legislative Director

Ziky Ababiya
Legislative Assistant

Ken Cummings
Budget Committee Analyst

Karen Robb
Chief Counsel

Arts

Federico Rodriguez
Legislative Correspondent; Office Manager

Budget

Ken Cummings
Budget Committee Analyst

Communication

Lillian Cruz
Deputy District Director for Constituent Services

Education

Sarah Schenning
Legislative Director

Energy

Sarah Schenning
Legislative Director

Entertainment

Ziky Ababiya
Legislative Assistant

Environment

Sarah Schenning
Legislative Director

Family

Sarah Schenning
Legislative Director

Ziky Ababiya
Legislative Assistant

Foreign

Lillian Cruz
Deputy District Director for Constituent Services

Ken Cummings
Budget Committee Analyst

Govt Ops

John Wing
Legislative Correspondent

john.wing@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-5341

Ken Cummings
Budget Committee Analyst

Gun Issues

Virdina Gibbs
Legislative Assistant

Health

Ziky Ababiya
Legislative Assistant

Homeland Security

Lillian Cruz
Deputy District Director for Constituent Services

Ken Cummings
Budget Committee Analyst

Housing

Sarah Schenning
Legislative Director

Human Rights

Virdina Gibbs
Legislative Assistant

Immigration

Lillian Cruz
Deputy District Director for Constituent Services

Virdina Gibbs
Legislative Assistant

Intelligence

Virdina Gibbs
Legislative Assistant

Intergovernmental

Ken Cummings
Budget Committee Analyst

Judiciary

Virdina Gibbs
Legislative Assistant

Labor

Sarah Schenning
Legislative Director

Land Use

Sarah Schenning
Legislative Director

Medicare

Ziky Ababiya
Legislative Assistant

Military

Lillian Cruz
Deputy District Director for Constituent Services

Virdina Gibbs
Legislative Assistant

Minorities

Sarah Schenning
Legislative Director

Lillian Cruz
Deputy District Director for Constituent Services

Native Americans

Federico Rodriguez
Legislative Correspondent; Office Manager

Public Affairs

Lillian Cruz
Deputy District Director for Constituent Services

Science

Sarah Schenning
Legislative Director

Federico Rodriguez
Legislative Correspondent; Office Manager

Seniors

Ziky Ababiya
Legislative Assistant

Small Business

Lillian Cruz
Deputy District Director for Constituent Services

Social Security

Ziky Ababiya
Legislative Assistant

Tax

Ken Cummings
Budget Committee Analyst

Technology

Sarah Schenning
Legislative Director

Federico Rodriguez
Legislative Correspondent; Office Manager

Telecommunications

Virdina Gibbs
Legislative Assistant

Transportation

Sarah Schenning
Legislative Director

Veterans

Virdina Gibbs
Legislative Assistant

Welfare

Virdina Gibbs
Legislative Assistant

Women

Ziky Ababiya
Legislative Assistant

Lillian Cruz
Deputy District Director for Constituent Services

Committees

BUDGET

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
Chris Van Hollen
Votes: 217,531
Percent: 63.45%
Ken Timmerman
Votes: 113,033
Percent: 32.97%
2012 PRIMARY
Chris Van Hollen
Votes: 35,989
Percent: 92.21%
George English
Votes: 3,041
Percent: 7.79%
2010 GENERAL
Chris Van Hollen
Votes: 153,613
Percent: 73.27%
Michael Phillips
Votes: 52,421
Percent: 25.0%
2010 PRIMARY
Chris Van Hollen
Votes: 57,847
Percent: 92.94%
Robert Long
Votes: 4,392
Percent: 7.06%
2008 GENERAL
Chris Van Hollen
Votes: 229,740
Percent: 75.08%
Steve Hudson
Votes: 66,351
Percent: 21.68%
2008 PRIMARY
Chris Van Hollen
Votes: 104,108
Percent: 87.82%
Deborah Vollmer
Votes: 11,052
Percent: 9.32%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (73%), 2008 (75%), 2006 (77%), 2004 (75%), 2002 (52%)

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