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Kathleen Matthews backs Chris Van Hollen for Senate race

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., speaks as Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. listens during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., speaks as Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. listens during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press file)

Democratic congressional candidate Kathleen Matthews, who has frequently talked about the importance of electing women to Congress, endorsed Rep. Chris Van Hollen in Maryland's Senate race on Monday instead of his leading female opponent.

Matthews, a former WJLA-TV anchor and Marriott International executive who is running for Van Hollen's seat in the 8th Congressional District, described Van Hollen as "a progressive Democrat and advocate for women and working families."

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Van Hollen is popular in the Montgomery County-based district, and most of the Democratic candidates to succeed him have said they would try to continue to build on his legacy. In that sense, Matthews' endorsement was entirely predictable, and politically savvy.

On the other hand, Matthews has made her status as a mother and working woman a centerpiece of her campaign -- and she has frequently discussed the importance of electing more women and minorities to Congress. In that sense, her message aligns more closely with Rep. Donna Edwards, the other leading Democrat running for Senate in Maryland.

Edwards has frequently touted the historic significance of her campaign: She would be the first African-American to represent Maryland in the Senate, and only the second black woman elected to the Senate nationwide.

Both Matthews and Edwards have been endorsed by Emily's List, the Washington-based group that helps elect Democratic women who support abortion rights.

The 8th District, which also includes portions of Frederick and Carroll counties, is considered safe for Democrats in the general election. Other candidates seeking the Democratic nomination include businessman David Trone, state Sen. Jamie Raskin, Dels. Kumar Barve and Ana Sol-Gutierrez, former Obama administration officials Will Jawando and Joel Rubin, and David Anderson of Potomac.

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