The Steely-Eyed House Antagonist: Budget Committee ranking member Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. Van Hollen, a Democratic wunderkind elected in 2002, quickly rose through the ranks in Congress, where he too is known for his policy chops. But Van Hollen also has a political experience under his belt; he spent two cycles as the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, overseeing major victories in 2008 and a major defeat in 2010. Learning, perhaps, from Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s example, he took over Democrats’ top seat on the budget committee, setting him up in direct opposition to Ryan as his colleagues seek to regain their majority. Van Hollen is ideally suited to lead the Democratic response to Ryan’s budget by casting himself as a defender of popular entitlement programs from callous GOPers, but if he fails to offer significant policy substance in answer to the hard questions about debt that Ryan poses, he will have a much harder time gaining political traction.