Trying to win his 13th term as Southern Maryland's congressman, U.S. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer crisscrossed the 5th District in typical whirlwind fashion last week, on one day stopping for events in White Plains, Bowie and College Park before heading back to Washington.
But the next day, Hoyer (D) hopped on a plane for Philadelphia in his bid to win a different contest -- the battle for control of the House of Representatives.
Hoyer stumped for three Pennsylvania Democrats vying for congressional seats. Each race there, Hoyer said, will be essential for Democrats' hopes of gaining 13 seats and retaking control of Congress.
Republicans have been in the majority since the 1994 elections.
Hoyer has hit the hustings for colleagues across the country many times in the past, but he said last week that his role has grown since he became minority whip in January 2003.
"I think we can do it," he said. "We have 30 to 40 very credible candidates this year."
Some political pundits would disagree. But Hoyer has plunged headlong into the task.
Since January, he has visited seven states -- from Missouri to Florida to South Dakota -- to campaign for 11 candidates in tight races.
According to federal campaign fund disclosures, he has doled out more than $200,000 this year to congressional candidates from his political action committee, Ameripac: the Fund for a Greater America.
With five months to go before the election, he is on pace to eclipse the $392,000 that he contributed in the 2002 election cycle.
Most of his trips have been to swing states, where he holds issue news conferences with local candidates and engages in the press-the-flesh politicking that Southern Marylanders know well.
Hoyer's schedule last week in Pennsylvania had him in Whitehall, where at 4 p.m. Wednesday he was to appear at a pharmacy to highlight the rising costs of prescription drugs with Joe Driscoll, a real estate developer competing for an open seat in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Then at 5:30 p.m., Hoyer was hosting a fundraiser at a restaurant in Bethlehem, Pa. for Driscoll and two other Democratic candidates -- Allyson Schwartz, who is vying for an open seat in suburban Philadelphia, and Lois Murphy, who is trying to unseat a freshman representative.
Hoyer "is definitely a draw," said David Nassar, a spokesman for Driscoll.
In a district that went for Al Gore by 3,000 votes in the 2000 presidential election, an endorsement from Hoyer, a self-described centrist, provides credibility for a candidate looking to attract independents and moderate Republicans, Nassar said.
"This district is filled with moderates," Nassar said. "People are going to respond very well to [Hoyer's] voice."