BALTIMORE – The longest-serving woman in the history of Congress has passed the torch – literally – to her successor.
Retiring Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski handed off a multicolored, flashing, battery-powered light bar to Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, who was elected Tuesday to fill her seat.
It came after Mikulski, Van Hollen, and Sen. Ben Cardin ate breakfast at Jimmy’s Restaurant in Fell’s Point, something Mikulski has done after every victory.
“Yesterday was a big transition for me, and it was a big transition for the United States of America,” Mikulski said at her nearby Baltimore office. She was first elected to the Baltimore City Council 45 years ago before moving on to serve in Congress, first in the House and then in the Senate.
Mikulski said it is crucial for leaders now to come together and show respect for one another.
Asked if she respects Donald Trump, Mikulski responded: “I respect the process that chose him. He’s the president-elect, and I think we need to start with civility, stick with the constitution, and I think we’ll be OK.”
Mikulski also said she was impressed by the voter turnout and the orderly election process Tuesday.
With her retirement, Maryland will have two male senators. And with Rep. Donna Edward’s departure from the House, no women will represent the state in Congress.
“Abigail Adams said to John, when they were writing the Constitution, ‘don’t forget the ladies’. Guys, don’t forget,” Mikulski quipped.
She remains focused on work to be done in the lame-duck session on issues that include jobs, the economy and “putting the money in the federal checkbook that is so important to Maryland.”
Mikulski announced last year that she would rather spend her final months in office “raising hell” than raising money for a sixth term in the Senate.