Capital Gazette Endorses Chris Van Hollen for U.S. Senate

Capital Gazette

Ideology is important — but there’s also something to be said for experience and effectiveness.

For instance, we know many Anne Arundel County residents don’t like Barbara Mikulski’s liberal views but are nonetheless glad the five-term U.S. senator is in Washington looking out for this area’s interests.

Mikulski is retiring in January, and of the potential successors on the ballot — Republican Kathy Szeliga, Democrat Chris Van Hollen and Green Party candidate Margaret Flowers — Van Hollen is undoubtedly the one best qualified to take up where Mikulski will leave off. We’re endorsing him.

We know many county residents sympathize more with the political philosophy of Szeliga, who represents Harford and Baltimore counties in the House of Delegates. The delegate, like Van Hollen and Flowers, was gracious enough to come to our office, and virtually her first words were “I believe Washington is broken.”

Szeliga stresses her endorsement from Gov. Larry Hogan and her experience running a construction company. Like Hogan, she is no purist. She would have met with President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, and is one of the few GOP candidates this year who wants to fix the Affordable Care Act, not repeal it. As a top Republican in a Democrat-dominated state legislature, she knows how to work with those across the aisle.

Yet when you get beyond a few issues she cares deeply about, she reverts to basic GOP talking points, with little detail. She brushes off climate change as a fixation of the media — although it’s local officials, not journalists, who are trying to cope with the steady increase in nuisance flooding in Annapolis.

Van Hollen, a seven-term congressman from Montgomery County, is the ranking Democrat on the Budget Committee. His opening statement to us touched on climate change, cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, school funding, getting the big banks out of student loans, protecting whistle blowers, doing everything possible for the Port of Baltimore and BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport – and that’s not a complete list.

Van Hollen’s priorities include his DISCLOSE Act, which would mandate disclosure of campaign contributions, working on the tax code to remove perverse incentives for American companies to move abroad and expanding the child and dependent tax credit. He has a reputation for being detail-oriented and a skilled legislator.

In a perfect world, some candidate would combine Van Hollen’s knowledge and nuts-and-bolts effectiveness with Szeliga’s conviction that sometimes another federal program isn’t the answer — sometimes government needs to scrap what it has already done. But of this year’s candidates, Van Hollen is far better equipped to offer the sort of top-notch representation Barbara Mikulski gave Marylanders for so many years. He has our endorsement.