Van Hollen Giving DCCC Another Look

Posted November 7, 2008 at 4:11pm

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) is reconsidering his decision to turn down a second term as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee under renewed pressure from a persuasive Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), sources confirmed Friday.

If Van Hollen opts to stay on at the campaign arm, he would step away from a possible leadership battle with another Pelosi ally, Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), for the chairmanship of the Democratic Caucus.

Van Hollen earlier this week made clear he had no interest in another turn leading the DCCC. “I’m exploring all my options,” he told reporters Wednesday at a news conference to review the roughly 20-seat gain he engineered on Tuesday for the party. “One option I’m not exploring is continuing as chairman of the DCCC.”

But sources say Pelosi is leaning hard on Van Hollen to take on another two-year stint. The move would ease the way for Larson, currently the Caucus vice chairman, to advance a rung on the leadership ladder.

If Pelosi prevails and Larson secures the Caucus chairmanship, he would effectively be reclaiming his place in the leadership lineup. Larson was chairing the Caucus when Democrats won back the House in 2006, but Pelosi persuaded him to step aside and allow Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), then the DCCC chairman, to take the spot — a reward for helping Democrats retake the majority.

Emanuel on Thursday accepted an offer from President-elect Obama to serve as his chief of staff, which opens up the Caucus chairmanship.

Even if Van Hollen remains at the DCCC, it is not clear whether Larson would have a clear path to the Caucus chairmanship. Other Democrats eyeing promotions include Reps. Kendrick Meek (Fla.), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), Joe Crowley (N.Y.) and Marcy Kaptur (Ohio).