Maryland congressman to replace Emanuel

/ Source: The Associated Press

Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, who was elected to Congress only four years ago, will lead House Democrats' fundraising and recruiting efforts heading into the 2008 election, Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi announced Tuesday.

Van Hollen, 47, takes over the position of chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., who was credited with leading the Democrats to victory in the midterm election and restoring the party to power in the House after 12 years in the minority.

Emanuel will assume the post of Democratic Caucus chairman when the new Congress convenes in January.

"Congressman Chris Van Hollen's depth of legislative experience and political savvy will make him an exceptional DCCC chairman," Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement.

Van Hollen, in an interview, said he had worked closely with Emanuel on recruiting and as co-leader of a program to promote strong Democratic candidates. He said his focus was "going to be on making sure that we continue to be in a position to carry out the mandate for a change in direction. ... The main thing we've got to do is follow through on the commitments we made."

During the last election cycle, the DCCC raised more than $100 million, allowing the party to expand into districts where it is usually not competitive and helping win more than 30 GOP-held seats.

Van Hollen was born in Pakistan and lived in Turkey and Sri Lanka, where his father was the U.S. ambassador. He earned a masters degree from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and held a staff position on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee before entering Maryland state politics. He was elected to Congress in 2002.

Pelosi last week named Van Hollen to a seat on the Ways and Means Committee, which is responsible for tax and trade legislation.

Pelosi also said that Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio, would take over next year as chairwoman of the ethics committee, officially called the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.

Tubbs Jones has been a member of the panel, made up of five Republicans and five Democrats, that has been in the spotlight recently for its investigation of the improper electronic messages former Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., sent to teenagers who had been House pages.