Today, he stepped down as chairman of the DCCC, leaving his future open.
Right now, he's mulling his next step and seemingly wants to secure a position in the Democratic caucus leadership, according to a statement from one of his top aides, veteran Democratic communications specialist Doug Thornell, who serves as Van Hollen's adviser
and has worked as an assistant to Speaker Nancy Pelosi. in Van Hollen's leadership office as assistant to the Speaker.
"Congressman Van Hollen is focused on providing support and resources to our candidates in still undecided races. As he has done for the last four years, Van Hollen is going to fight to the very end for every single House Democrat," Thornell said Friday afternoon, with several House races still yet to be called.
"Over the last couple of days he has been getting lots of inquiries about his future from his colleagues who are encouraging him to stay in the Democratic leadership and appreciate his hard work under historically difficult political circumstances."
It may be difficult for Van Hollen to climb any higher on the Democratic ladder, as the competition shapes up for the top posts in Democratic leadership.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she will run for minority leader, but the rest of the picture is less clear.
With Democrats headed for the minority, they'll have one fewer spot in party leadership (the job of Speaker disappears), and a game of musical chairs unfolded on Friday. A battle for the job of Democratic Whip looms between James Clyburn, the current whip from South Carolina who says he will run again, and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, the moderate Maryland congressman who beat out Pelosi's chosen candidate, the late Rep. John Murtha, for majority leader in 2007. With Pelosi running for minority leader, Hoyer is gunning for the number-two spot, while the Congressional Black Caucus will support Clyburn.
Caucus chairman John Larson is running to keep his job, and Rep. Xavier Becerra, the 52-year-old caucus vice-chairman from Los Angeles, has signaled that he will run for that post again.
As these members look to secure their positions or move up the ladder, there may not be a spot for Van Hollen at the end. It's crowded at the top.
Complicating Van Hollen's outlook is this fact: With ballots still being counted in a handful of races across the country, he can't very well step out of his role as DCCC chairman when there are Democrats out there still fighting, and for whom Van Hollen is also expected to fight. He can't project an image of being done with the 2010 midterms--which he would if he were to publicly ask Democrats to support him in a leadership bid--when the 2010 midterms are still going on.
Everything about Van Hollen's recent career trajectory has suggested a spot in Democratic leadership awaits him. As the lame duck session unfolds and these members secure support from fellow Democrats, the picture will become clearer.
Where Van Hollen fits into this picture is anyone's guess.