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avatar for Sen. Chris Van Hollen

Sen. Chris Van Hollen

U. S. Senate

Chris Van Hollen has been described as “one of those rare leaders who runs for office because he wants to DO something, not because he wants to BE something.”

Chris was first elected to public office in 1990, when he campaigned for the Maryland House of Delegates as part of the ‘Choice Team,’ which unseated an incumbent opposed to women’s reproductive rights. In Annapolis, Chris quickly earned a reputation as a champion for progressive causes and a talented legislator who was not afraid to take on powerful special interests – like the NRA, Big Oil, and Big Tobacco – on behalf of hardworking families.

He led successful fights to make Maryland the first state to require built-in safety trigger locks on handguns, ban oil drilling around the Chesapeake Bay, and prevent tobacco companies from peddling cigarettes to our kids. Chris also negotiated an historic increase in funding for all Maryland schools.

Time Magazine said Chris was “a hero to environmentalists, education groups and gun control advocates.” The Baltimore Sun called him “effective” and “tenacious” and the Washington Post dubbed him “one of the most accomplished members of the General Assembly.” In 2002 Chris was elected to Congress on a wave of grassroots support, ousting a 16-year Republican incumbent. There he brought the same brand of can-do activism with him. He led the successful effort to stop big banks from reaping outrageous profits from student loans and was also credited with helping Democrats win back control of the House in 2006.  He became a Democratic leader and played a key role in the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the Wall Street Reform law, and the Economic Recovery Act that helped rebuild our shattered economy.

When the Republicans took over the House in 2010, Chris’s colleagues elected him to lead the battle against the Tea Party budget. In that role he has been leading the fight to protect Medicare and Social Security from GOP budget attacks and protect vital investments in education, transportation, medical research and programs for the most needy.

Chris has also unveiled a comprehensive plan to address one of the greatest challenges of our time – growing inequality in America.  His ‘Action Plan to Grow the Paychecks of All, Not Just the Wealth of a Few’ has been called a forward-looking blueprint for building an economy that works for everyone. In the Senate Chris will continue to fight for bold measures to revive the promise that every individual has the chance to climb the ladder of opportunity and lead a successful and fulfilling life.

The son of a Baltimore native, Chris’s involvement in social justice and political action began at an early age. Chris’s mom and dad were both dedicated public servants, and growing up he saw their strong commitment to making the world a better place.  As a student, he joined efforts to end Apartheid in South Africa and stop the nuclear arms race. And while Chris put himself through law school at night, he worked as a Congressional aide and then as an advisor to Maryland Governor William Donald Schaefer.

Chris and his wife, Katherine, live in Kensington where they have raised their three children.