- Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the most senior member of the Senate, said on Monday that he would not seek re-election in 2022 in a seat he has held eight times.
- Leahy, 81, said he and his wife Marcelle have concluded that “it is time to torch the next Vermonter who will carry forward this work for our great state. It’s time to come home.”
Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the longest-serving member of the Senate, said on Monday that he would not seek re-election in 2022 for the seat he has held eight times.
Leahy, 81, said he and his wife Marcelle have concluded that “it is time to torch the next Vermonter who will carry forward this work for our great state. It’s time to come home.”
This 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 who were elected following the resignation of President Richard Nixon. During its nearly half-century in the Senate, Vermont has transformed from one of its most progressive states into one of the most solidly Republican states in the country.
The change will be significant for Democrats who hope to retain control of the Senate after next year’s midterm elections. With the Chamber equally divided, the party cannot afford to lose any of its existing seats.
Lehi will leave the Senate with a record of promoting human rights, banning landmines, and protecting individual privacy rights. He has been a champion of the environment, particularly Lake Champlain, the body of water that separates northern Vermont from upstate New York.
Retiring and creating the first vacancy in Vermont’s congressional delegation since 2006, Leahy drew a scuffle among many of the state’s up-and-coming politicians to succeed him.
Matthew Dickinson, a professor of political science at Middlebury College, said a likely choice to succeed Leahy would be Democratic Rep. Peter Welch, the only member of the state’s U.S. House of Representatives.
Dickinson said Welch’s fundraising is going well and noted that Welch, 74, has consistently received high approval ratings.
“I think he would be the logical candidate, and that would set up a musical chair about who would replace him in Congress,” Dickinson said.
It is uncertain which Republican candidates may seek their party’s nomination in November’s election. It’s unclear whether the state’s Republican governor, Phil Scott, who has often criticized former President Donald Trump and called for civility in politics, would be interested in running.
Leahy is the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the senior-most member of both the Senate Judiciary and Agriculture committees.
Earlier this year, Leahy presided over the second impeachment trial of then-President Donald Trump during his third term as protem president of the Senate.
In September, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, the longest-serving Republican senator, said he would seek an eighth term in 2022, giving the party more confidence in holding that seat as it seeks to overtake Democrats with a one-vote advantage. Fights, thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris’ role as the tiebreaker.
Leahy said he is proud of his service to his state and his work to make a difference to residents of Vermont.
“I know I’ve been there for my state when I needed it most. I know I’ve taken my best ideas and helped them grow. I’ve made Vermont’s voice the United States Senate and around the world.” brought to Vermont values,” he said.