Chris Van Hollen gets a boost from Paul Ryan's rise

Caitlin Fairchild/GovExec.com

When one party gains power in Washington, the other side usually loses its stature.

But, that scenario hasn't played out in the budget world, as House Budget Committee Paul Ryan burst onto the national stage as the Republican vice presidential candidate.

Just as his stock rose, so went the clout of his most frequent Capitol Hill sparring partner: Maryland Democrat and the Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen.

On Friday, the Democratic National Convention announced that Van Hollen will speak in Charlotte, the night and time slot to be determined.

In the days following the Ryan pick, the Obama people snapped up Van Hollen as a campaign surrogate. He appeared on behalf of the campaign in New Hampshire, Raleigh, and Tampa, even sitting in the campaign war room at the Republican National Convention along alongside Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter.

He'll also play Ryan in the debate prep for Vice President Joe Biden.

Van Hollen's become an indispensable ally for the Obama campaign, as it tries to tie the implications of Ryan's budget and its Medicare cuts to the Romney ticket. Who better to stick in the knife on politically sensitive issues than the man who's sat beside Ryan in dozens of hearings and mark-ups, debating the issues that now dominate the campaign: tax cuts, deficit reduction and the future of Medicare.

"I like Paul Ryan personally. We've had very spirited but very civil debates," Van Hollen said the day Romney announced Ryan as his running mate. "But, obviously, this election comes down to the same issues that we debate in the budget committee. What this choice tells me is that Romney is doubling-down on an economic agenda that benefits people like Mitt Romney at the expense of the rest of the country."

It's too soon to know what Van Hollen will say at the Democratic National Convention, or if he'll receive a televised slot.

As for the VP selection itself, Van Hollen questions its wisdom, not that Ryan's not a nice dude.

"Politically speaking, this is clearly throwing a boat to the right wing of the Republican Party but it's telling independent voters to take a hike," he said.

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