Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy won’t seek reelection

MONTPELIER (VT) -- Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, Vermont's longest-serving member of the Senate, announced Monday that he would not be seeking reelection to the seat he held for eight terms.

Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy won’t seek reelection

MONTPELIER (VT) -- Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, Vermont's longest-serving member of the Senate, announced Monday that he would not be seeking reelection to the seat he held for eight terms.

Leahy, who is 81, stated that he and Marcelle have come to the conclusion that it was time to hand the torch to the next Vermonter to continue the work of our great state. It is time to return home.

This announcement marks the end to a political era. Leahy was first elected to the Senate in 1974. He is the last of the so called Watergate babies, who were elected following the resignation of President Richard Nixon. Vermont has changed from being one of the most conservative states in the country over the past half-century.

This transition will be crucial for Democrats, who want to keep control of the Senate following next year's midterm election. The party cannot afford to lose any of the current seats, with the chamber evenly divided.

Leahy will be leaving the Senate with a track record of supporting human rights, fighting to ban landmines, and protecting individual privacy rights. He is a champion for the environment, particularly Lake Champlain, which separates upstate New York from northern Vermont.

His quirky side is also known, mainly because of his love for Batman. He has been in five Batman movies and told the Joker in "The Dark Knight", 2008, that "we're not intimidated" by thugs. He's also been to at least half a dozen Dead concerts, including from the stage.

"Would you call me a Deadhead?" He wrote it once with pride.

Leahy retires and creates the first vacancy within Vermont's congressional delegation. This sets up a race to succeed him among many of the state's rising politicians.

Matthew Dickinson is a Middlebury College political science professor. He said that a likely candidate to succeed Leahy was Democratic Rep. Peter Welch. Welch is the state's only member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Dickinson stated that Welch's fundraising efforts are going well, and pointed out that Welch, 74 years old has had consistently high approval ratings.

Dickinson stated, "I believe he would make the best candidate and that would open up the doors to who will replace him in Congress."

It is not clear which Republican Party candidates may seek the nomination to run for the party's nomination in November. It is not clear whether Phil Scott (the state's Republican governor, who has repeatedly criticized President Donald Trump and called for civility in politics) would be interested.

Scott gave a speech after Leahy's announcement praising him, calling him an "incredible champion of Vermonters". He didn't address the possibility of a successor nor say whether he would consider the seat.

Scott stated, "It's thanks to him and the funding that he's secured to our state, Vermont is in a place to come out from this pandemic stronger and tackle big problems like broadband and infrastructure to deal with the opioid crisis."

Leahy is the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and the senior-most member on both the Senate Judiciary or Agriculture committees. Leahy presided over the second impeachment case against then-President Donald Trump earlier this year during his third term as president pro tem.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley (the longest-serving Republican senator) announced in September that he would run for an eighth term in 2022. This gives the party more confidence to hold the seat while it fights to surpass the Democrats' one vote advantage due to Vice President Kamala Harris's role as tiebreaker.

Leahy stated that he was proud to have served his state and made a difference for Vermonters.

"I am certain that I have always been there for my state when it was most needed. I am certain that I have helped our state grow by taking their best ideas. He said that he had brought Vermont's voice into the United States Senate, and Vermont values to the rest of the world."

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