Vt. Senate leader Balint to seek Welch’s seat in US Congress

Published: Dec. 13, 2021 at 6:42 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 13, 2021 at 4:41 PM EST
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Another candidate is jumping into the race for Vermont’s lone congressional seat.

Windham County Democrat and Senate President Pro Tem Becca Balint says she wants to represent Vermont in Washington.

Balint points to the work and the policies she’s helped pass in the Senate. She says she wants to continue that work on behalf of Vermont in Congress.

Surrounded by friends and family Monday, Balint said she’s the one to represent Vermont in Washington, D.C.

“We all learn best when we feel valued and respected, and that’s why I ran for office,” Balint said.

Balint described her grandfather’s death during the Holocaust as foundational to her values.

And she said overcoming discrimination she and her wife experienced as key to building bridges, working to become a middle school teacher and, eventually, the first openly gay leader of the Vermont Senate.

“It’s about making sure that the center of everything we do is about meeting the needs of our neighbors, the working people of Vermont, and the people who are often overlooked or ignored,” Balint said.

Balint points to her track record as majority leader and president pro tem, and the policies she’s gotten across the finish line.

“Paid sick leave, minimum wage increases, important investments in broadband, child care and workforce development,” Balint said.

She says she wants to continue that work in Washington, pushing for Medicare for all, the green new deal and climate policies, and paid family and medical leave.

Balint hopes to be the first woman elected to Congress from Vermont.

This legislative session, analysts say Balint and other prospective candidates will also have to tackle big policies.

Billions in infrastructure funds, COVID relief money and others issues like pensions and redistricting.

“There’s some sticky legislation to be done before candidates can hit the campaign trail,” said Bert Johnson, a political scientist at Middlebury College.

Balint says she will have no problem balancing the two.

Her announcement is the latest domino to fall after Sen. Patrick Leahy announced he will retire next year.

Congressman Peter Welch, who also once served as Vermont’s pro tem, is running for Leahy’s seat.

Balint joins Vermont Lt. Gov. Molly Gray in the House race, and Sen. Kesha Ram-Hinsdale has also expressed interest in running.

“If you live in Vermont and are interested in politics, I would recommend you plan your summer vacation after August 9, primary day. It should be pretty interesting.” Johnson said.

A Republican challenger has not yet come forward.

This cycle, candidates are already flexing their campaign coffers. Gray said Monday that she’s already raised over $100,000. Balint said she’s raised about $35,000.

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Rep. Peter Welch to run for US Senate

Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy won’t seek reelection

Will Vermont send a woman to Washington?

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Leahy opens Tuesday Senate session

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