As speculation continues about the House Democratic leadership structure in the next Congress, Rep. Chris Van Hollen has been particularly busy.
The Maryland lawmaker is a regular presence on the cable news channels. He has appeared on the stump with President Barack Obama, and during those trips he has been featured at local fundraisers and press conferences on behalf of House candidates in competitive races.
Itís enough to make people think Van Hollen might be positioning himself to run for something besides re-election to his own House seat.
While Van Hollen is often considered part of Democratic leadership, and sometimes attends leadership meetings, he has no formal leadership position ó and thereís no apparent opening for him to fill when Democrats elected to the 113th Congress hold leadership elections five weeks from now.
Van Hollen is the top-ranking Democrat on the Budget Committee. He chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for two cycles and served as assistant to then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who named him to the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction in 2011.
But just as Pelosiís move on Wednesday to delay leadership elections until Nov. 29 has prompted questions about the current Minority Leaderís future, Van Hollenís stepped-up campaign and surrogate work potentially positions him to run for a leadership spot should an opportunity arise.
One House Democrat attributed Van Hollenís activity to Caucus loyalty, and an effort by a former DCCC chairman knowledgeable about national politics to help however he can.
During the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., Van Hollen made the rounds at the media filing center, offering his outlook on House races.
His fundraising appeals on behalf of Democratic House candidates have appeared in thousands of inboxes around the country. And he has donated $350,000 from his own campaign funds to the DCCC this cycle.
He spent part of the fall impersonating his Budget Committee foil, Rep. Paul Ryan, during Vice President Joseph Bidenís preparations for his debate with the GOP running mate.
But other parts of Van Hollenís work are less visible. He has participated in a series of conference calls with Democrats in tough House races, often discussing the House Republican budget resolution written by Ryan and its local implications.
The teleconferences are either news conferences or town hall formats. The news conferences allow local newspapers to get quotes from a Democratic heavyweight. And tens of thousands of senior citizens have phoned in to Van Hollenís tele-townhalls.
On the conference calls, Van Hollen delivers the party message on the Ryan budget and counters Republican accusations that Democrats have cut Medicare by enacting the 2010 health care law. Then, the House candidate chimes in with the local implications of the Ryan budget blueprint.
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