Maryland Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen announced on Wednesday that he will run for the Senate seat left open by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, the 78-year-old Democrat and longest-serving woman in Congress who announced on Monday that she would retire.
“I am very much looking forward to the upcoming campaign and a healthy exchange of ideas,” he wrote in a statement released Wednesday. “In my very first election for Congress I believed that people were tired of politics as usual, and I ran a campaign based on key issues and ideas that matter to our future. The same is true today.”
Van Hollen noted in a Facebook post that a more formal declaration would come later. Meanwhile, he is the first to announce candidacy in what is expected to become a crowded race. While possible 2016 presidential hopeful and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said on Tuesday that he would not run for the seat, most of Van Hollen’s Maryland colleagues in the House may be considering bids. Democratic Reps. Elijah Cummings, John Delaney, Donna Edwards, Dutch Ruppersberger, and John Sarbanes are also among those likely to consider joining the race. Like Van Hollen, they would be putting their seats on the line in order to do so.
Former state delegate and one-time gubernatorial candidate Heather R. Mizeur may also be considering a bid for Mikulski's seat, reported The Baltimore Sun. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and two former lieutenant governors — Anthony Brown and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend — have also been named as possible contenders.
Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, is well known for his past success as a fundraiser, and previously served as chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The ability to raise money for a race that could cost more than $20 million could give him a significant advantage, according to Politico.
While some Republicans have been named as possible candidates — Daniel Bogino, who ran against Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin in 2006, may consider running — no Republican has won a Senate seat in the state since Charles “Mac” Mathias took the seat in 1980, before Mikulski began her term. President Barack Obama won the state with 62% of the vote during the last election.
During her announcement on Monday, Mikulski declined to say whether she had a successor in mind. “Maryland has a lot of talent and they’ll be telling you about in the next 10 minutes,” she joked.