- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 20, 2006

House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi yesterday named Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland as chairman of the Democrats’ campaign arm, completing her appointments of her party’s leadership team as it assumes the congressional majority next month.

Mr. Van Hollen, 47, will run the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), which has the task of raising funds and recruiting candidates for the 2008 elections in order to hold new Democratic seats and increase the party’s numbers in the House.

Mrs. Pelosi of California said she was impressed by Mr. Van Hollen’s “depth of legislative experience and political savvy” and said she is confident that he will help “strengthen our Democratic majority” in his two-year term.

Mrs. Pelosi also made the last of the 22 committee chairman assignments, appointing Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio to lead the House ethics panel, and making the expected announcements that Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald of California will be chairman of the House Administration Committee and Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney of New York will be vice chairman of the Joint Economic Committee.

She also said Rep. Xavier Becerra of California would serve as assistant to the speaker.

Mrs. Pelosi, who will be the first female speaker in history, noted the number of women and ethnic minorities who will serve in chairmanships and leadership posts.

“With the strength of our Democratic caucus rooted in our diversity, these members will provide a strong voice for all Americans,” she said.

Mr. Van Hollen’s colleagues yesterday said he is the right choice to lead efforts to keep a Democratic majority beyond two years. In this election cycle, he was co-chairman of the DCCC’s “Red to Blue” fundraising program for candidates across the country and also worked on recruiting strong campaigners to challenge incumbent Republicans.

Next month, he takes over the job from Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, whom Democrats have chosen to lead their House party caucus. Mrs. Pelosi said she thinks Mr. Van Hollen will build upon the work done by Mr. Emanuel, who was widely credited for helping the Democrats capture more than 30 Republican-held seats in last month’s midterm elections.

Mr. Emanuel praised his successor as having “an acute political capacity rarely found in Washington,” and noted he considered Mr. Van Hollen one of his “top lieutenants” and consulted him “in every critical decision I had to make.” The two men were in the same freshman class in 2003, after Mr. Van Hollen unseated longtime Republican incumbent Rep. Constance A. Morella.

Mr. Emanuel sent an e-mail to DCCC supporters asking them to make a donation to “help Chairman Van Hollen hit the ground running.”

Mr. Van Hollen told the Associated Press his focus will be on “making sure that we continue to be in a position to carry out the mandate for a change in direction,” adding, “The main thing we’ve got to do is follow through on the commitments we made.”

The Maryland lawmaker’s national profile will get a boost from the new position, and state Democratic officials said they hoped it will help them politically.

“You add another feather in Maryland’s cap where we’ve seen many from our delegation rise with the enormous blue wave,” said state Delegate William Bronrott, Montgomery County Democrat.

Mr. Bronrott said Mr. Van Hollen’s DCCC chairmanship will make a “meaningful” difference in Democrats’ efforts to defeat the two Republican congressman in Maryland, Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest of the Eastern Shore and Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett of Western Maryland.

Rep. Albert R. Wynn, Maryland Democrat, agreed, saying: “I think it will give us a real serious opportunity to take a look at other districts in Maryland,” adding that Mr. Van Hollen has “worked very hard for the party and I think he’ll do a fantastic job.”

Maryland already is prominently represented in the new Democratic House, where Rep. Steny H. Hoyer is the incoming majority leader. Mr. Hoyer called Mr. Van Hollen a “rising star” among Democrats, who has the “energy, intelligence and political acumen to succeed on a national political stage.”

Mrs. Pelosi also rewarded Mr. Van Hollen, who considered running for Senate earlier this year but dropped the bid, with a seat on the prestigious Ways and Means tax-writing panel.

Among the committee chairmanships announced yesterday, Mrs. Tubbs Jones will be the busiest at the helm of the ethics panel, formally called the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.

Mrs. Tubbs Jones, a former judge, has served six years on the ethics panel and most recently was part of a subgroup that investigated the Mark Foley page scandal.

Mrs. Pelosi has promised ethics reform will be at the top of the Democratic agenda next month, and said Mrs. Tubbs Jones “will provide steadfast and active leadership in a nonpartisan and judicious way, holding members to the highest ethical standard.”

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