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Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) told his supporters on Wednesday he’ll run for Senate in 2016 to replace retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.).

“I am writing to let you know that I have decided to run for the United States Senate from our great state of Maryland,” Van Hollen wrote in an email to supporters obtained by The Hill.

“I am very grateful to the citizens of Maryland’s Eighth Congressional District for the opportunity to represent them and want to thank the many Marylanders who, over the last 48 hours, have called, sent text messages, or emailed to urge me to run for the United States Senate,” he continued.

Van Hollen said in the email he wouldn’t make a formal announcement at this time but wanted to let his supporters in on his plans.

The Baltimore Sun first reported the news.

Van Hollen, the ranking member on the Budget Committee and former chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, has long been eyeing the Senate and appears to be the best positioned among his House colleagues with a $1.7 million war chest.

In his email to supporters, Van Hollen touted his record as an advocate for “equal access to quality education…good paying jobs, a strong middle class, and a healthy state, country, and planet for future generations.”

But Democrats could be facing a bruising primary.

Democrats are mentioning nearly every top name in national and state politics. In addition to Van Hollen, Reps. Donna Edwards, John Delaney, Dutch Ruppersberger, Elijah Cummings and John Sarbanes are eyeing the seat.

Former Maryland Lieutenant Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, a member of the powerful Kennedy family, also signaled her interest on Wednesday. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Labor Secretary Tom Perez, and former Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown have also been mentioned as potentially interested in seeking the nomination.

Van Hollen didn’t mention the potentially large field of Democratic candidates in his email to supporters, but indicated he’s ready for challengers.

“I am very much looking forward to the upcoming campaign and a healthy exchange of ideas,” he said. “In my very first election for Congress I believed that people were tired of politics as usual, and I ran a campaign based on key issues and ideas that matter to our future. The same is true today.”

Republicans are hoping to contest the now open seat, given now-Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) success last year in the typically blue state. Former Gov. Bob Ehrlich, his wife Kendel, and 2010 Senate nominee and 2012 House candidate Dan Bongino have all been mentioned.

Tags Barbara Mikulski Chris Van Hollen Maryland Senate

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