Primary Preview: Meet the Democrats running for US Senate

Published: Jul. 6, 2022 at 5:40 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Three Democrats are looking for your vote in the 2022 U.S. Senate primary.

Congressman Peter Welch will face Dr. Niki Thran and Isaac Evans-Franz in the August 9 primary to replace retiring Senator Patrick Leahy.

Congressman Peter Welch is standing as Goliath with two other novice politicians looking to assume the role of David in the race for Vermont Senator. Welch has served for roughly 15 years as the state’s sole representative in the nation’s capital, but that isn’t scaring away his competitors looking to make a political statement.

Down in Brattleboro, you might find Isaac Evans-Franz taking his campaign on wheels. The avid biker says he does it for exercise and to combat climate change, a major reason he is running. “I understand how to build a coalition, how to bring people together,” he said.

Evans-Franz was born and raised in Brattleboro and currently serves as director of Action Corp, a humanitarian advocacy program. He has also worked as a community health educator. He has mainly approached politics from an advocacy perspective. He says he’s ready to organize and lead a new social movement in politics to take on the biggest issues facing the nation. “We are facing so many crises, whether it’s the health care crisis, whether it’s the climate crisis, whether it’s people not being able to afford to put food on their plates,” Evans-Franz said.

Dr. Niki Thran , an emergency room doctor from Warren, believes the government could use a checkup. Her campaign focuses on three priorities -- health care, equity, and the environment. She says affordable health care is a right and that there should be more types of insurance. She wants to bolster primary care, preventive medicine, and alternative health care.

“We need a change and we need someone who will fight hard for every Vermonter regardless of where they stand politically. And just as any person comes into the emergency department, I take care of them, I promise to pledge to help any Vermonter who asks for my assistance,” Thran said.

And the most familiar candidate, Peter Welch, is looking to land a promotion from U.S. House to U.S. Senate.

“My way of working, working together to solve common problems, is going to be very helpful in the Senate to solve common problems,” Welch said.

Welch was first elected to represent Windsor County in the Vermont Senate in 1980 and went on to become Senate President. He has served as Vermont’s lone representative in Congress since 2007. He has championed environmental legislation, taken on issues surrounding child care, broadband access, and lowering the cost of prescription drugs. He serves on the House Intelligence Committee and says he plans to bring that experience with him to the Senate. “This is an all-hands-on-deck moment and I happen to be in Congress, and I am in a position to try to take advocacy to protect our democracy to the Senate. And I think all of us have to be all-in to protect our democracy that is essential to our future,” Welch said.

Welch looks to federally protect women’s reproductive rights as well as end the filibuster if that’s what it takes to protect reproductive liberty. “We find that when we have really big challenges but we are willing to face them together, we can take a step each day and make progress,” Welch said.

Thran and Evans-Frantz say they understand they are the outsiders but insist that an outside perspective is what is needed. “Bringing the voices of everyday Vermonters of everyday Americans to Washington,” Evans-Frantz said.

“I think I can help more Vermonters in D.C. than I can one at a time in the ER,” Thran said.

The winner of the Democratic primary will square off against the Republican nominee in November. The GOP candidates are Christina Nolan, Gerald Malloy, and Myers Mermel. We will be taking a look at their campaigns on the Channel 3 News on Thursday.

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