Far-Left Democrat Likely to Succeed Sen. Leahy

Far-Left Democrat Likely to Succeed Sen. Leahy Far-Left Democrat Likely to Succeed Sen. Leahy Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., speaks to reporters. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

John Gizzi By John Gizzi Monday, 15 November 2021 06:29 PM Current | Bio | Archive

The surprise announcement Monday morning by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D.-Vt., that he will not seek re-election in 2022 prompted immediate speculation throughout the Green Mountain State that his successor will be from the far left (or “progressive”) wing of the his party.

“Vermont has been reliably blue in federal elections in recent years,” former Republican Gov. Jim Douglas told Newsmax, “So the Democratic nominee would be the heavy favorite.”

The most-oft discussed Democratic prospect is Vermont’s congressman-at-large Peter Welch.

A former state senator who went to the House in 2006 and succeeded Bernie Sanders (who won his first term in the Senate), Welch endorsed Sanders for president in 2016 when Leahy and then-Gov. Peter Shumlin were strong backers of Hillary Clinton.

A close ally of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D.-N.Y., Welch endorsed “AOC’s” Green New Deal proposal that would dramatically alter the economy to conform with climate change.

Although Welch would be a natural for nomination and election, the question among Vermont Democrats is whether, at age 75, he would give up 16 years of seniority in the House.

In the hours since Leahy’s announcement, there were rumblings about Vermont never having sent a woman to the House or Senate.

Among those mentioned as possible contenders if Welch stays in the House are State Senate President Becca Balint, the first openly gay person to serve as a senate president anywhere; Lieutenant Governor Molly Gray, a onetime Welch staffer who previously taught international human rights law at the University of Vermont; and State Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale, a member of the Boards of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and the Vermont Natural Resources Council.

The only name on the Republican side mentioned is that of incumbent Gov. Phil Scott, who has frequently said in the past he is uninterested in going to Washington.

Leahy, 81, made history in 1974 when he was elected as Vermont’s first and only Democratic U.S. Senator. After 47 years, he still holds that unique niche — Bernie Sanders, while twice a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, has always been elected to the Senate as and independent with Democratic blessings.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

Original Article