House Democrats today announced that Maryland Democrat Chris Van Hollen will serve the next term as Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the job formerly occupied by Rahm Emanuel.
The Blue America Communities, a joint venture of three online communities to select and promote strong grassroots progressive candidates with local enthusiasm and support, raised $545,068.57 during the last election cycle from 6,139 small donors. The Blue America Communities so far include Firedoglake, Crooks and Liars and Down With Tyranny. Those familiar with Blue America will know we have been very much at odds with Rahm Emanuel, both as a leader of the DCCC and as a politician in Democratic leadership, but today we greet the announcement of Mr. Van Hollen's appointment with guarded hope.
I've done a bit of asking around today. Chris Van Hollen won his primary in 2002 against a better financed Democrat, and then went on to beat incumbent Republican Connie Morella. He gets some praise from progressives for his policy positions, has been a strong fundraiser and is reputed to be a helluva nice, down to earth guy. Just telling you what I've heard, and I'm hopeful all of this will prove to be on the mark.
Blue America's Howie Klein is also hopeful (via email from his South American vacation):
I'm very excited about this. The DCCC has an excellent professional staff and with a fair-minded political boss leading it, it can be a really effective organization. I don't know a lot about Van Hollen but he's got to be a lot better than Emanuel. I'd love to see the DCCC, the grassroots and the netroots working together for a common purpose: electing more Democrats to the House (rather than furthering the personal careers of a couple of power-mongers). I have a really good feeling about Van Hollen. Of course I just got back from 8 hours walking with Magellan penguins on an island in the Beagle Straits so I'd probably have a good feeling of anyone short of Ellen Tauscher getting this job.
We hope the appointment of Mr. Van Hollen bodes well for grassroots progressives, who as a group found their campaigns sabotaged and opposed by the DCCC under Rahm Emanuel during the 2006 campaign cycle. Unlike Emanuel, Van Hollen did not get his start as a machine politician opposed to a grassroots progressive through a campaign marred by criminal corruption. Van Hollen was, in fact, the local progressive who beat out a better known and better financed Democrat in a 2002 primary. We look forward to the possibility of communicating and collaborating with the DCCC under Mr. Van Hollen for the next campaign cycle, for the benefit of the Democratic Party, and more importantly, on behalf of the country.