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Becca Balint wins Vermont House primaries, backed by Senator Bernie Sanders.

Becca Balint, a progressive leader in the Vermont legislature who had the support of the state’s most influential political figure, Senator Bernie Sanders, won the Democratic primary for the state’s only seat in Congress, according to The Associated Press.

Mrs. Balint, 54, defeated Lieutenant Governor Molly Gray, and if successful in November, she would be Vermont’s first female congressman. Their contest was seen as a proxy battle between progressive and moderate wings of the Democrats, with Ms. Gray backed by Senator Patrick Leahy, who is retiring.

Ms. Balint is seeking a vacant seat to be vacated by Representative Peter Welch, a Democrat running to replace Mr. Leahy, 82. He is the last member of the 1974 Democratic wave of congress, elected after President Richard M. Nixon’s resignation in the Watergate scandal.

Vermont’s big house seat hasn’t been occupied by a Republican since 1992, making Ms. Balint a strong favorite to keep for her November party.

A high school teacher before entering politics, Ms Balint, who is gay, described in: a campaign video moving into her home in Brattleboro with her partner (now her wife), across the street from a neighbor with an anti-gay sign. She finally made peace, “and the sign came down,” she says in the video.

Ms. Balint is the Speaker of the State Senate and is a former Majority Leader. She supported the expansion of weapons security measures and was a lead sponsor of an amendment to the state constitution to guarantee abortion rights, which will be on the state vote in November.

In her congressional race, she ran for support for a progressive punch list: Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, and paid family and medical leave.

“We need to bring people together around an agenda that works for everyone and not just a few, and that’s what Becca’s campaign is about,” Mr Sanders said during his campaign for Ms Balint last month.

Ms. Balint, on the same campaign swing, acknowledged that Vermont’s deep blue slope in federal elections meant that the primaries were the most important election.

“In this race, the race is in the primaries,” she told a crowd in Rutland, according to: VTDiger. “Whoever wins this primary will be the next congressman, and I hope it’s me.”

There were few policy differences between Ms. Balint and her rival, Ms. Gray, although Ms. Balint was seen as slightly more progressive.

Mrs. Gray, 38, is from Vermont and grew up on a farm in Newbury, and she has skied on the University of Vermont cross-country team. She was an assistant attorney general for the state and was elected lieutenant governor in 2020. Meanwhile, she worked as an intern for Mr. Leahy and a congressional officer for Mr. Welch.

Mr. Leahy revealed that he voted for Ms. Gray, although he repeatedly said he trusted Vermonters to make their own decisions.

Outside progressive groups money deposited to the state to help Ms. Balint, including the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC and the LGBTQ Victory Fund. That support asked The Boston Globe to ask, “Is the next member of ‘the squad’ from Vermont?”

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