Van Hollen won't lead House Democratic campaigning a third time

Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen led Democrats to a House majority in 2008 and has the same job in 2010, but he won't take a third term as Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee head.

Michael Bonfigli/Special to The Christian Science Monitor
Rep. Chris Van Hollen said two times is enough spearheading the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee at a Monitor Breakfast Thursday.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen spearheaded Democrats' effort to win a House majority in 2008 and he has the same job again in 2010.

Would he take the job a third time? “That, I can tell you, won’t happen,” Mr. Van Hollen said while leaving a Monitor-sponsored breakfast for reporters on Thursday.

During the breakfast, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank asked the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) chairman if he would have taken the job this year “knowing what you know now?” Van Hollen faces a daunting political climate with nonpartisan analyst Charlie Cook of the Cook Report saying Democrats could lose 50 House seats – and their majority – in November.

“The short answer to your question of whether or not I am pleased I took the job, I am glad I am where I am in this position,” he said. “But obviously it is a tough cycle. When the Speaker [Nancy Pelosi] asked me to do this again, she said she didn’t want somebody to start out with training wheels on.”

Van Hollen, who represents Maryland’s suburban Montgomery County, led House Democrats to a pickup of 21 seats in 2008. “In 2008, when I chaired the DCCC last cycle, we had the benefit of trying to maximize our gains in a positive political environment,” he said. “Now we are in a position of trying to make sure that in a tough political environment we hold our majority. And obviously that makes for a lot of very tough decisions.... It is a cycle that really puts all of us to the test.”

As for the election outcome, "I am confident the day after the election we at the DCCC will be able to say that we did everything possible to hold onto the majority and that we will have the majority," Van Hollen said.

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