Van Hollen announces new endorsements

The Baltimore Sun

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Chris Van Hollen's campaign for Senate announced endorsements on Tuesday from several progressive Democrats as part of an effort to confront an emerging storyline that liberal groups are lining up behind Rep. Donna F. Edwards.

Susan Turnbull, past president of Jewish Women International and a former state Democratic Party chair in Maryland, and Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, issued statements Tuesday backing Van Hollen that were released by the campaign.

"I've met very few public leaders who are as effective at getting real-world results as Chris, especially on climate change and clean energy," Tidwell said in a statement. "If you want something done, go to Chris Van Hollen."

Tidwell noted his was a personal endorsement and not on behalf of his organization.

Turnbull, meanwhile, described Van Hollen as an "incredibly effective fighter for progressive causes" and said he would "fight for progressive democratic values in the U.S. Senate."

Van Hollen, a Montgomery County Democrat, announced on Monday that he is running for the Senate seat being left open by retiring Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski in 2017.

The latest endorsements come hours after Edwards announced that she, too, will seek the seat. A pair of national liberal groups, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America, have encouraged Edwards to run.

"Donna Edwards has proven time and again that she's a bold progressive," PCCC emailed to its members Tuesday. "She's not just an ally -- she's one of us."

And the Prince George's County lawmaker took a subtle dig at Van Hollen in the video announcing her campaign, suggesting she would oppose cuts to Social Security "no ifs, ands, buts or willing to considers."

Some left-leaning groups, such as MoveOn.Org, have raised concerns about past statements by Van Hollen suggesting the Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction recommendations made in 2010 could provide a "framework" for a grand deal on spending and taxes.

Van Hollen did not endorse that proposal and, as the top-ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, actually fought several of its provisions related to Social Security.

It's also not clear that Van Hollen is all that vulnerable to criticism from the left. For starters, he is widely seen as being close to House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. A 2013 ranking of members by the National Journal put Van Hollen as the 72nd most-liberal member of the House, with a composite score of 83. Mikulski, by comparison, had a score of 86.3 percent in the Senate. 

Edwards, meanwhile, is almost always ranked among the most liberal members of the House. In the National Journal analysis, she tied for most-liberal member with a score of 96.3 percent.

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