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Pelosi expands Van Hollen's leadership role

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the Montgomery County Democrat who chaired the party's 2008 house election operation to a 20-seat gain, is being rewarded with an expanded role in the House leadership.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has championed Van Hollen's rise in the House, named him an assistant to the speaker focusing on policy issues and incumbent retention.

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"Chris Van Hollen is a first-rate thinker and political strategist who knows the policy, politics, and people that are essential to House Leadership successfully developing and executing our agenda for change with the Caucus and the incoming Obama Administration," Pelosi said.

The announcement comes after Van Hollen, elected to a fourth term last month, accepted the thankless task of a second term chairing the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. After winning more than 50 seats in 2006 and 2008, House Democrats will have their hands full in 2010 simply holding onto the seats they've gained.

After the election, Van Hollen said he wasn't seeking another term with the DCCC, and floated the idea of succeeding departing Rep. Rahm Emanuel as chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. It was Pelosi, looking to avoid a battle for the position between Van Hollen and current caucus Vice Chairman John B. Larson of Connecticut, who persuaded Van Hollen to run the political operation for another cycle."Chris Van Hollen was the maestro of this year's historic election," Pelosi said. "He is uniquely positioned to lead House Democrats' official incumbent retention efforts and help our new Members succeed. As DCCC Chairman next cycle, Chris will provide the continuous leadership needed for the more than 30 new Members of the Democratic Caucus and the challenging mid-term election ahead of us."

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