by Guy Page
Rep. Peter Welch is planning to run for the Vermont Senate seat held by Patrick Leahy since 1974, Axios reports.
Welch, the longtime lone Congressman for Vermont, reportedly has a $2.1 million campaign chest and has hired a consultant to help him run for Senate. According to Axios, he “is indicating to colleagues” his plan to run for the seat, which becomes open next year.
Welch could face a challenge from the Vermont left – possibly Chittenden County Sen. Kesha Ram, who published a gushing press release about Leahy two and a half hours after his Monday announcement that he would not seek re-election. The statement concludes:
“Stepping aside to let the next generation step up is yet another act of visionary leadership. As we stare down the tumultuous road ahead, Vermont will need leaders who we can trust to authentically represent and fight for our needs at every level of government and carry on his legacy. We will not let you down.”
The press release also includes a photo of Leahy and Ram with a hand-written note: “Kesha – proud of you! Patrick Leahy.”
According to Axios and many Vermont observers, Lt. Gov. Molly Gray is also a likely candidate. A family friend of the Leahys, Gray came out of nowhere in 2020 to defeat many established Vermont politicians in both parties for the lieutenant governor post. People who have spoken to her are impressed with the Newbury native and lawyer’s communication skills, command of issues and political savvy.
If Vermont’s political Left decides to challenge Welch, soon-to-be Senior Senator Bernie Sanders could play a kingmaker role. It’s likely that whoever gets the nod from Sanders will be expected to support some or all of the initiatives dearest to his independent, socialist heart.
On the Republican side, Gov. Phil Scott will not be a candidate, he stated emphatically during Tuesday’s press conference. Conservative activist Mark Cuester of Windham County has declared he will seek the nomination as an independent.
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Monday, Vermont Daily Chronicle published readers’ reactions to Leahy’s announcement. Two more were submitted after Monday’s deadline and are published below.
I met the man Sen Patrick Leahy on the movie set of Batman and Robin in Los Angeles back in 1996 or 1997. When I approached him I told him I was one of his constituents. Through our conversation we learned that his Father and my Great Grandfather were friends. We made contact a couple of times by phone when I returned to Vermont on vacation from California. He impressed me as a kind and affable gentleman. I did not follow him politically. My interest in politics did not really occur until June of 2015.
I don’t know what Sen Leahy’s beginning or middle of his career was like, but these last 6 years have been less than stellar. His embracing of Black Lives Matter and the Communist Arm of the Democrat Party is sickening. I guess the pressure from the Far Far Left to conform was just too great to withstand. I believe that evolution from who he was to what he became is one more good reason to instill term limits. I wish him well into his retirement. – Brian Judd, Barre, 2021 candidate for City Council
Having watched Pat Leahy in office for 48 years, I find myself wondering what were his most noteworthy actions on a national stage – leaving aside his flood of federal spending directed to benefit Vermont. What comes up first is his ultimately failed campaign, along with Ted Kennedy and Joe Biden, to block confirmation of Justice Clarence Thomas – and making sure the first Hispanic Justice was not going to be an admirably qualified Republican (Miguel Estrada).
Thirty years ago Pat had his staffer take a photo of us in the State House. I remarked, “this is going to hurt both of our reputations.” – Former State Senator and Ethan Allen Institute Founder John McClaughry