A Maryland State Senator from 1995 to 2003, and a Member of the Maryland House of Delegates from 1991 to 1995, the electoral career of Chris Van Hollen may have begun in the halls of Annapolis but it has flourished in the halls of the United States Congress.
Born in Karachi Pakistan to diplomat Chris Van Hollen, Sr. and Edith Van Hollen, Senator Van Hollen’s life was clearly bound for excellence starting at an early age. Upon graduation from southern India’s Kodaikanal International School, he would go on to Swarthmore College where he’d receive a degree in philosophy in 1982. After Swarthmore, Van Hollen would make his way to Harvard where he’d receive a Master of Public Policy Degree in 1985. Finally, after leaving Harvard, he’d make his way to Georgetown University Law Center where he’d receive a Juris Doctorate in 1990 and begin to lay the groundwork for a distinguished career in law and politics.
Van Hollen’s professional career would lead him to public service on both the federal and state levels as he’d serve as an aide for United States Senator Charles Mathais from 1985-1987 then-Governor William Donald Schaefer from 1989-1991 when he’d decide to consummate his own electoral ambitions. Van Hollen would successfully win a seat in the Maryland House of Delegates in 1990 and then be elected to the Maryland Senate in 1994.
The General Assembly career of Van Hollen would be marked by legislative successes and rapid ascension to leadership as the Vice Chairman of the powerful Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. He’d work on several important issues in the Maryland Senate and lead the fight to improve the Health of the Chesapeake Bay, raise tobacco taxes, and initiate commonsense gun control legislation.
Proving himself to be a thoughtful and effective legislator, Van Hollen would seek election to the United States Congress in 2002 and ultimately defeat incumbent Congresswoman Connie Morella. Van Hollen would serve seven terms in the United States House of Representatives until his election to the United States Senate in 2016. He’d also prove a thoughtful and effective leader in Congress and subsequently be entrusted with numerous leadership positions including the Chairmanship of both the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (from 2007-2011) and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (from 2017-2019) as well as the Ranking Member Position on the United States Senate Committee on the Budget.
Although now increasingly well-known for his work in the United States Senate, Van Hollen will always be considered by the Maryland Senate as one of its own.