Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) announced Wednesday he plans to run for the U.S. Senate in 2016.
"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. "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."
Van Hollen, who has served in the House of Representatives since 2003, said a more formal announcement of his plans would come later this week.
Van Hollen is running for the seat being vacated by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), who announced Monday she would retire at the end of her current term.
Mikulski has served in the U.S. Senate since 1987, and before that, was elected to the House of Representatives in 1976. She has been in Congress longer than any other woman, and was the first woman to head the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), who was among those who were expected to make a run for Mikulski's seat, said Tuesday he would not launch a Senate campaign. He has previously said he is "seriously considering" a White House run.
Read the full text of Van Hollen's email to supporters below:
I am writing to let you know that I have decided to run for the United States Senate from our great State of Maryland. 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. A more formal announcement will come later, but I wanted to let you know of my plans.
I am very much looking forward to the upcoming campaign and a healthy exchange of ideas. 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.
The promise of America is that every individual -- regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation -- will be given an equal opportunity to succeed and prosper. We have fallen short on that promise. I believe that one of the key challenges of our time is the struggle to make sure that America works for all its citizens, not just the wealthy few.
I am committed to working every day, as I have in my years in the Congress, for policies that ensure equal access to quality education, provide good paying jobs, a strong middle class, and a healthy state, country, and planet for future generations.
In January, I put forward an economic Action Plan to generate more growth in our economy with more shared prosperity. Despite important economic progress, too many hard working families across Maryland and around our country have been struggling to make ends meet. For the last 20 years, as the productivity of our workforce has increased dramatically, paychecks have remained flat. We must unite to promote a tax system that rewards hard work, instead of one riddled with loopholes and special deals for the super wealthy and well-connected. We need to make sure that every individual in our state and our country has a chance to climb the ladder of opportunity and build a successful and fulfilling future.
We must sharpen our competitive edge and invest strategically -- in education, cutting-edge scientific research, and modern infrastructure -- to ensure that every American is equipped to compete in the 21st Century. We must create opportunities for more Americans to save and benefit from the wealth creation that is currently concentrated at the very top of the income ladder.
It is also important that we grow our economy in a way that protects our environment, including our national treasure, the Chesapeake Bay. As the Co-Chair of the Congressional Chesapeake Bay Watershed Caucus I have been honored to work with Maryland’s farmers and conservationists to protect the Bay and preserve it for future generations. I have also been pleased to Co-Chair the Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change, which is committed to addressing the threats and costs to our communities from the disruptions created by massive carbon pollution and climate change.
Even though our nation is politically polarized today, I continue to believe in the power of ideas to bring people of goodwill together for the common good. I’ve had the opportunity to work across the aisle to get things done on a variety of issues, from funding for the Chesapeake Bay, to expanding research on pediatric cancer, to leveling the playing field for families with children with disabilities by providing equal access to tax-free savings accounts to provide for their children’s future, to protecting federal whistleblowers who take action to ferret out waste, fraud, and abuse.
For 5 long years, I fought to gain the freedom of my constituent, Alan Gross, from a Cuban jail cell and I was honored to travel to Cuba in December to finally bring Alan home. I have also been proud to lead the fight to reduce the influence of secret money and ensure greater transparency and accountability in our electoral process.
I have always believed in the power of the democratic process to further strengthen our nation, to build on the progress we have made, and to create an ever more perfect union. I look forward to hearing your views in the coming days and weeks on how, together, we can achieve these goals and continue the fight to get things done for our great State of Maryland and our country.