Sen. Patrick Leahy says he won’t seek reelection

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced on Monday that he will not seek reelection next year, setting the stage for a potentially bruising Democratic primary.

 “It is time to pass the torch to the next Vermonter who will carry on this work for our great state. It’s time to come home,” Leahy said, speaking from the same room in Vermont’s State House where he launched his first Senate campaign in 1974. 

Leahy, 81, has served eight terms in the upper chamber. He is currently the president pro tempore of the Senate, the second highest ranking position in the chamber. He also serves as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and sits on the Judiciary and the Agriculture committees.
The senator notably presided over former President Trump’s impeachment trial earlier this year. 
Leahy is the only Democrat from Vermont that has been elected to the Senate. 
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) released a statement on Monday calling Leahy a “lion of the Senate.” 
“Vermont is a blue state that has not elected a Republican to statewide federal office in more than 20 years, and Democrats look forward to winning this Senate seat in 2022,” said Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), the chairman of the DSCC. 
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who is the longest-serving Republican senator, issued bipartisan praise for Leahy following news of his retirement.
A Republican has not filed to run for Leahy’s seat. Meanwhile, a number of potential Democratic contenders have been floated, including Rep. Peter Welch, state Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint, state Sen. Kesha Ram-Hinsdale and Lt. Gov. Molly Gray. A woman has yet to represent Vermont on Capitol Hill.

The course of the primary could largely depend on Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) endorsement. It is unclear whether Sanders will endorse Welch, if he runs. 

Tags 2022 Bernie Sanders Chuck Grassley Donald Trump Gary Peters Patrick Leahy Peter Welch reelection Vermont

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