Del. Kumar P. Barve of Montgomery County said Monday that he will jump into the wide-open contest for the Democratic nomination for the 8th District congressional seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen.
Barve, a 24-year member of the House of Delegates, is likely to face a crowded field in the 2016 contest to succeeed Van Hollen, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat held by the retiring Barbara A. Mikulski. Kathleen Matthews, a former Washington news anchorwoman and wife of MSNBC host Chris Matthews, announced last week she is looking at the race, and more than a half-dozen elected officials are believed to be considering joining the race.
The 56-year-old Barve is a former majority leader who now chairs the House Environment & Transportation Committee. He has been a key ally of House Speaker Michael E. Busch. Barve was the first American of Indian descent to be elected to a U.S. state legislature, a distinction that could help him tap into an affluent and politically attuned donor base.
He announced his candidacy in a news release.
Barve could face one obstacle in his quest to represent the heavily Democratic district – his 2008 guilty plea to a drunk driving charge from the previous year. He received probation before judgment and has had no traffic citations or other charges since then.
Among the Montgomery County elected officials who have said they are considering an 8th District race are Sens. Jamie Raskin and Richard Madaleno and Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez. The district is dominated by Montgomery County but also includes parts off Frederick and Carroll counties.
Raskin said he and has family has decided to seek the seat, but only on one condition: "I don't want to run against Senator Madaleno, whom I worked with to pass marriage equality and is like a brother to me. But if he's not running, I don't think wild horses could get me away from this race."
Raskin, a law professor at American University, joined the Senate in 2007 and chairs two committees, the Senate's Executive Nominations Committee and the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics.
Madaleno, considered a rising star in the Senate, said Monday morning he was still considering whether to pursue a bid for Van Hollen's seat. "The only thing I've decided on is that I'm supporting Van Hollen" for U.S. Senate, Madaleno said.
Baltimore Sun reporter Erin Cox contributed to this report.