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Story highlights

Van Hollen becomes the first senator-elect to hold the position

He previously chaired the Democrats' campaign efforts in the House

(CNN) —  

Incoming Sen. Chris Van Hollen picked up a big task Friday, taking control of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee as his party tries to hold the line in the Senate in 2018.

“He has the confidence of our caucus and will do a great job for our candidates running in 2018. The map is tough for Democrats, but I have no doubt that Senator-elect Van Hollen is up to the task,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, himself the new head of the Senate Democrats.

Van Hollen becomes the first senator-elect to hold the position, a key seat within the Senate Democrats’ leadership. Van Hollen previously chaired the Democrats’ campaign efforts in the House as a member of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s team. He also has deep connections in Washington and inside the Capitol.

Democrats will be playing defense in 23 states in 2018, including “red states” like Indiana, North Dakota and Montana and Rust Belt states President-elect Donald Trump won, including Ohio and Wisconsin – making it highly likely that Senate Republicans add to their majority in two years.