Primary Preview: Meet the Democrats running for US House - Pt. 3

Published: Jun. 16, 2022 at 4:49 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Four Democrats are vying for Vermont’s open U.S. House seat and will face off in the August primary election. Lt. Governor Molly Gray and Senate President Becca Balint are widely expected to garner the most votes. In the second part of his Primary Preview on the top contenders, Calvin Cutler reports that while many of their policies are similar, voters can also draw distinctions based on their fundraising and their endorsements.

Campaign 2022 and the race for Vermont’s lone congressional seat is ramping up, but how can voters choose between candidates in the same party?

Molly Gray and Becca Balint share many similar policy priorities when it comes to issues including climate change, housing, broadband, Medicare, and workforce development.

“These massive challenges that are quite unique to Vermont and rural states -- they need federal investment and federal support,” Gray said.

The economy and inflation will likely take center stage in Washington. The dueling candidates agree some of the causes are beyond Congress’ control. Balint says she would pursue price gouging legislation. “The more we can do here at home to make our supply chain more robust, the more we will be able to withstand these inflationary pressures in the future,” she said.

The once-in-a-generation congressional race has also been defined by large donations. Both candidates have said no to corporate donations. The last campaign finance data from the spring showed Balint brought in some $569,000 while Gray raised $627,000. New numbers coming out next month are expected to be much larger.

The race has also been defined by endorsements, helping Democratic voters understand which influential leaders support each candidate. The more moderate Gray has deep connections with the Vermont Democratic Party faithful, including Senator Patrick Leahy and Rep. Peter Welch, who she used to work for. She has also earned the endorsements of former Governors Howard Dean and Madeline Kunin. “I think she’s highly qualified,” Kunin said during a recent event.

Gray recently also got the endorsement of the Vermont State Employees Association.

Support for Balint comes from more left-leaning organizations and local and national labor unions, a slate of current and former state lawmakers, and her former challenger, Senator Kesha Ram Hinsdale.

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington, who leads the Congressional Progressive Caucus, previously endorsed Ram-Hinsdale but now is throwing her support behind Balint.

Balint stresses her bottom line is that she’s a tested leader. “It is not the same to be tested as a candidate as to be tested on the campaign trail. It’s a different set of skills. Campaigning is not the same as leading,” she said.

Gray says she would work to bring Democrats together and also work with Republicans. “We have to look beyond party lines and we have to bring people back together again, not only gain our democracy but also good government, caring for each other and doing all that we can to get back to the issues,” she said.

This is the first time Vermont’s congressional seat has been open in 16 years. It’s happening as we’re emergeing from the pandemic and with six of the eight major party candidates being women, this could be the year Vermont sends its first woman to Congress.

Ericka Redic, Anya Tynio, and Liam Madden are all seeking the Republican nomination for Congress. We’ll have a break down of that primary later this month.

The Vermont Primary is on August 9th and early voting begins on June 25th.

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Primary Preview: Meet the Democrats running for US House - Pt. 2

Primary Preview: Meet the Democrats running for US House - Pt. 1

Primary Preview: Meet the Democrats running for Vermont secretary of state

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