Rep. Chris Van Hollen worked both chambers of the Maryland State House Tuesday, gathering support for his nascent senate bid.
"I'm talking about our common ideals and what we could do together if I were to have the fortune of being elected senator," Van Hollen said in a brief interview. He declined to comment on running against his colleague, Rep. Donna Edwards, who announced her campaign Tuesday morning.
The announced retirement of Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski set off a scramble among state Democrats, both for her seat and for congressional seats that may open as the candidates line up to replace her.
Van Hollen was the first to formally announce his bid, holding a press conference with supporters from his home district in Montgomery County Monday and traveling to Annapolis Tuesday to glad hand with former colleagues in the state legislature.
House Speaker Michael E. Busch ceded the rostrum to Van Hollen, who told the House of Delegates he longed for the days when he worked in the legislature and could get legislation passed.
The seven-term congressman started his career in elective office with a dozen years in the state legislature, and has still has many friends there.
Van Hollen declined to answer several questions about his day lobbying state lawmakers, but said he would model his approach to the senate seat after Mikulksi, who for years enjoyed the state's highest favorability ratings of any politician.
"She was somebody who was a leader on national issues, but also stayed very focused on the local issues of the state," he said.
At least two state lawmakers announced plans to run to replace Van Hollen, and another several have contemplated bids of their own.