Courtesy Sen. Barbara Mikulski/Twitter
Courtesy Sen. Barbara Mikulski/Twitter

Just as many predicted, Maryland will be without a woman in Congress for the first time in decades starting next year. However, Baltimore’s own pantsuit revolution-leading U.S. senator, Barbara Mikulski, doesn’t seem too distressed about that. She has already welcomed her replacement with open arms.

This afternoon, the pair were joined by her colleague, Sen. Ben Cardin, for a ceremonial passing of the torch. The torch didn’t carry a real flame — it looked like more of a baton, really — but it did light up in different colors and had plenty of symbolic value.

“Proud to pass the torch of service to the people of Maryland to @ChrisVanHollen!” she tweeted.

Barbara Mikulski has been a fixture in the U.S. Senate since 1987 and served in the House for 10 years before that. She announced last spring that she wasn’t planning to seek a sixth term in this year’s election. Many will miss her reputation as a tough, no-nonsense lawmaker straight out of Baltimore.

Chris Van Hollen easily secured her open spot last night. After spending the last seven terms representing Maryland’s 8th congressional district, he made the jump up from the House to the Senate, beating out his opponent, State Del. Kathy Szeliga, with three-fifths of the vote. His election was the first one in Maryland called by the AP.

Speaking with WBAL Radio today, he thanked Maryland’s voters for picking him and said he would be meeting with Sen. Mikulski in Fells Point to talk about the future over breakfast. “I’m proud to have her strong support,” he said.

Van Hollen is lucky to have have her backing. As President Obama noted while presenting Mikulski with the Presidential Medal of Freedom last November, “you don’t want to be on the wrong side of Barbara Mikulski.”


Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...