There will be a changing of the guard in Vermont’s congressional delegation.
Two open seats in Vermont’s three-member congressional delegation staged a rare changing of the guard. Senator Patrick Leahy, 82, a Democrat and the longest-serving member of the Senate, is retiring. Representative Peter Welch, an eight-term Democrat, is stepping down to run for Mr Leahy’s seat. The shuffle led to Vermont’s first open house election since 2006.
Mr Welch’s two main challengers are both new candidates who have raised little money, and he has a huge advantage on Tuesday. In a poll released last month by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, he was the favorite of 82 percent of likely Democratic voters.
Republicans will choose between Christina Nolan, a former US attorney, and Gerald Malloy, a retired army officer who has positioned himself on the hard right.
Because of Vermont’s solid blue slope in federal elections (the other senator is Bernie Sanders), Mr. Welch will likely have little trouble winning in November.
Mr Welch, 75, is a former state legislator elected to the House of Representatives to succeed Mr Sanders, who has supported him. He is a member of the Progressive Caucus and co-sponsor of the Green New Deal, the sweeping plan to tackle climate change, often mocked by conservatives.
A video who introduced Mr. Welch’s Senate campaign, lists his priorities — including health care for all, voting rights, and “reproductive justice” — and complains that “everything is being filibusted by the Mitch McConnell Republicans,” suggesting Mr. Welch should have a vote to overthrow the legislature.
Mr. Welch, a lawyer, was a community organizer in Chicago early in his career before moving to Vermont, where he first worked as a public defender.
Leahy is the latest of a wave of Democrats elected to Congress in 1974 after President Richard M. Nixon stepped down over the Watergate scandal. That year, he held off a challenge from Mr. Sanders, who won 4 percent of the vote for the Liberty Union party. Third in the presidential line of succession, Mr. Leahy presided over the second impeachment trial of former President Donald J. Trump.
The Democratic primary for Mr. Welch’s seat as the sole member of the United States House of Representatives is the most competitive in Vermont. The field includes two women with strong resumes and fundraising: Lieutenant Governor Molly Gray and Becca Balint, the pro tempore president of the state Senate. If either gets through the primary and wins in November, Vermont would have its first female congressman. Ms Balint, who recently appeared on the campaign trail with Mr Sanders – who supported her – has held a decisive lead in polls.