Vermont Democratic Rep. Peter Welch announced that he would forgo reelection and instead launch a bid to succeed Sen. Patrick Leahy on Monday.
Welch, Vermont’s lone House member, was long expected to run, and he was endorsed almost immediately by Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has served in the Senate alongside Leahy since 2006. Leahy, the dean of the Senate who was first elected in 1974 and the only Democrat to serve in the Senate from Vermont, announced last Monday that he would retire after eight terms.
“Peter has the knowledge and experience to fight for a government that works for all, not just the wealthy few,” Sanders said. “That’s why I’m proud to endorse Peter today and look forward to serving with him in the Senate.”
Welch, in his announcement video, emphasized the Democrats’ slim Senate majority, noting that his seat could be the deciding factor.
“Powerful outside interests will come to Vermont to try to advance their interests, not ours,” Welch said. “They know an open seat in Vermont could be the difference between passing our positive agenda and Mitch McConnell controlling the Senate again.”
Welch also criticized McConnell and Republicans for filibustering Democratic goals from voting rights legislation to Medicare for All to the Green New Deal.
“Everything gets filibustered by the Mitch McConnell Republicans in the Senate,” Welch said. “They’re fighting for failure.”
Despite Leahy’s retirement and Welch’s emphasis on keeping the Senate in Democratic control, the Vermont congressman would be an overwhelming favorite to be elected next November, assuming he wins the Democratic primary, given that his state voted for President Joe Biden by 36 points in 2020.
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