Van Hollen to Stay on As House Democrats' Campaign Chief

Democrats hope to keep streak alive in 2010

WASHINGTON -- The architect of the 20-seat gain by House Democrats last week is staying on as their campaign chief for the 2010 midterm elections.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, of Maryland, has agreed to a request by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to keep the reins of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for the next election cycle. Just last week, Van Hollen, 49, had said he would be giving up the post.

As chief of the committee, Van Hollen pulled off a feat the Democrats hadn't accomplished in 75 years: big gains in back-to-back elections, counting a 30-seat gain in 2006. That success could be difficult to replicate in 2010, because the party controlling the White House almost always loses seats in midterm elections.

The campaign post is a demanding job on top of Van Hollen's regular duties as a congressman, and Van Hollen has school age children. He previously expressed interest in chairing the Democratic Caucus, the No. 4 leadership post in the House, but eventually demurred.

He will take on an informal role as a policy adviser to Pelosi.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., is leaving the caucus post to become President-elect Obama's chief of staff. He had been seen as a candidate to eventually become Speaker.

It does appear that there will be turnover at the House GOP campaign committee. Chairman Tom Cole, R-Okla., is seeking a second term, despite a disappointing result for House Republicans last week, but he's drawn a challenge from Texas Rep. Pete Sessions, whose campaign has the backing of the Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio. Republicans elect their campaign chair; the Democratic leader appoints the campaign chair for the party.

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Van Hollen's decision to stay put means that Connecticut Rep. John Larson has a clear path to become Caucus chairman, likely without a challenge. Larson is currently caucus vice-chairman.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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