Reid endorses Van Hollen for Senate
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Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidThe Memo: Political trench warfare colors views on coronavirus GOP embraces big stimulus after years of decrying it Five Latinas who could be Biden's running mate MORE (D-Nev.) is throwing his significant support behind Rep. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenDemocrats struggle to keep up with Trump messaging on coronavirus Pentagon gets heat over protecting service members from coronavirus Overnight Defense: Lawmakers call for probe into aircraft carrier captain's firing | Sailors cheer ousted commander | Hospital ship to ease screening process for patients MORE's (D-Md.) Senate bid.

The endorsement is a strong signal to other Democrats weighing a bid and to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) who has been pushing Van Hollen drop his bid.

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"I enthusiastically endorse Chris Van Hollen for the United States Senate," Reid said in a statement released by him and Van Hollen's campaign.

"Not only would Chris Van Hollen be the best and most effective person for the job, I have no doubt that he is in the best and strongest position to make sure that this Senate seat remains in Democratic hands in a State that just elected a Republican Governor."

Reid also referenced Pelosi's recent comments that she's trying to convince Van Hollen to stay in House leadership and hinting that he might someday be in a position to take her place.

"Chris Van Hollen is the kind of legislator who makes things happen. I know he will be missed in the House of Representatives, but I have no doubt that he will be an outspoken champion for democratic values in the United States Senate," said Reid.

"I'm honored to receive the endorsement of Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic Leader of the Senate.  He is a fighter for more jobs with better wages, for equality, and for Social Security and Medicare," Van Hollen said in an accompanying statement. "I greatly appreciate his support and confidence." 

Reid's endorsement is likely aimed at scaring off other Democrats — more than a half-dozen of whom are weighing entering the primary — as well as to quell efforts from some major Democratic outside groups to land another candidate in the race. But his endorsement may not clear the field for Van Hollen.

Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) is showing strong interest in the race, and is getting encouragement from a number liberal of groups.

EMILY's List, a powerful group that backs Democratic women who support abortion rights, is high on her as well as Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D), who is also looking at a run.

The group has a strong interest in electing another woman to the seat, as Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), the first woman elected to the Senate in her own right is retiring.

Liberal groups including MoveOn.org and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee have also been critical of Van Hollen's record — specifically his openness to entitlement reforms — and are encouraging Edwards to run.

Former NAACP President Ben Jealous is also considering a bid. All could position themselves to Van Hollen's left in the primary.

Some African-American Democrats are hoping for one of their own in the race, whether that be Edwards, Rawlings-Blake, Jealous or Cummings.

Former Maryland Lieutenant Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, a member of the powerful Kennedy family, also signaled her interest on Wednesday. 

Democratic Reps. John Delaney, Dutch Ruppersberger, Elijah Cummings and John Sarbanes are also eyeing the seat, though none appear likely to run.

This story was updated at 5:27 p.m.