MONPELLIER, Tue (AP) – Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the longest-serving member of the Senate, said Monday that he would not seek re-election next year to the seat he held for eight terms.
See Leahy’s announcement in the player above
Leahy, 81, said he and his wife, Marcel, had come to the conclusion that “it is time to hand over the torch to the next Vermont, who will continue this work for our great nation. It’s time to go home.
The announcement marks the end of a political era. First elected to the Senate in 1974, Leahy is the last of the so-called Watergate babies to be elected since the resignation of President Richard Nixon. In his nearly half century in the Senate, Vermont went from being one of the most republican states to one of the most progressive states in the country.
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The move will be critical for Democrats, who hope to maintain control of the Senate after next year’s midterm elections. With an equal division of the chamber, the party cannot afford to lose any of its current seats.
Leahy will leave the Senate with a track record of promoting human rights, working to ban anti-personnel mines and protecting individual rights. He was an environmentalist, especially Lake Champlain, a body of water that separates northern Vermont from upstate New York.
He is also known for his quirky side, defined by his love for Batman and the Grateful Dead.
After retiring and creating the first vacancy on the Vermont Congressional delegation since 2006, Leahy is battling for a spot among the state’s up-and-coming politicians.
Matthew Dickinson, professor of political science at Middlebury College, said the likely choice for Leahy would be Democratic Rep. Peter Welch.
Dickinson said Welch’s fundraising was going well and noted that the 74-year-old Welch consistently enjoys high approval ratings.
“I think he would be a logical candidate, and that would create musical chairs about who will replace him in Congress,” Dickinson said.
It is unclear which GOP candidates can qualify for their party’s nomination for the November elections. It is unclear whether Phil Scott, the Republican governor who has often criticized former President Donald Trump and called for politeness in politics, will be interested in running for the presidency.
Scott praised Leahy in a statement following the Senator’s statement, calling him “an incredible champion of Vermont.” He did not reach out to a possible successor and did not say if he would be interested in this place.
“Thanks to him and the funding he has provided for our state, Vermont can emerge stronger than ever before from this pandemic and address major challenges, from broadband and infrastructure to the opioid crisis,” Scott said.
Leahy is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a senior member of the Senate Judiciary and Agriculture Committee. Earlier this year, Leahy chaired a second impeachment trial for then-President Donald Trump during his third term as interim Senate president.
In September, Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley said he would run for an eighth term in 2022, which will give the party more confidence to hold the seat as it struggles to surpass the Democratic one-vote advantage thanks to the vice president. Role of President Kamala Harris as a tiebreaker.
Leahy said he is proud of his service to his state and his work to improve the lives of Vermont residents.
“I know I was there in my state when I was needed most. I know I took our best ideas and helped them develop. I have brought Vermont’s voice to the US Senate and Vermont’s values around the world, ”he said.