At the beginning of the 114th Congress, a group of seven House Democrats came together and made a plan: They would back Rep. Chris Van Hollen to serve as the party's next leader.
Then Van Hollen decided to run for Senate instead, and those members were left looking for a Plan B. They don't have one yet. Neither does the caucus.
That matters because House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is 75 years old and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer is 76. Pelosi has yet to telegraph when she plans to leave office, nor does she have a favored successor in place—though she was widely thought to be grooming Van Hollen for that role. She has also never gotten along well with Hoyer.
Part of the motivation for the pro-Van Hollen group, the existence of which was first disclosed by The New York Times, was to rally behind someone who was both ready for the top job and liked enough by the current leader that the transition would go smoothly.
So, for members of the "Van Hollen Seven," is there another candidate who would fit that bill?
"Those conversations are really premature at this point," said Rep. Steve Israel, a member of that group and a longtime Pelosi ally.
Other Van Hollen backers also demurred from naming a favorite to succeed Pelosi. "In terms of going forward, I don't know," said Rep. Beto O'Rourke, who was present at one of the group's meetings. "While I was happy to attend that, I did not think it was going to be public. I do not want to speculate on others."