WATCH: Vermont Democratic congressional primary debate
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Three candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for Vermont’s lone congressional seat met in a debate on WCAX Thursday night.
Molly Gray is from Newbury. She’s a Vermont Law School graduate who worked for Sen. Patrick Leahy and Congressman Peter Welch. She was elected to Vermont’s lieutenant governor post in 2020.
Becca Balint is a teacher from Brattleboro who was elected to the Vermont Senate. She became the first female and openly gay president pro tem last year.
Louis Meyers is from the nation’s capital and has worked as a probational officer. He is currently a physician at the Rutland Regional Medical Center.
In the home stretch of a historic congressional campaign, the three candidates fielded questions on everything from the economy to criminal justice to their track records.
On inflation and making Vermont more affordable, Balint says corporations need to be held accountable for excess profits.
“A windfall profit tax for companies that are price gouging,” Balint said.
Gray supports a gas tax holiday, while Meyers points to reducing tariffs.
The candidates also tackled criminal justice and gun reform.
“The more we can take this out of the culture wars, make it a health issue and a commonsense issue the better,” Meyers said.
...And how to bolster law enforcement staffing.
“Making sure they are making a fair wage, making sure their pensions are saved and protected, and that we are giving them every support we can,” Gray said.
They addressed stemming the overdose crisis through safe injection sites.
“We should be focused on harm reduction,” Balint said.
“I think there’s a role for them if they’re done well,” Meyers said.
They were asked whether to roll back qualified immunity for police, a shield from personal lawsuits.
Balint says yes.
“People need to have their opportunity to have their day in court,” Balint said.
Gray says it needs further discussion.
“If we’re going to go down that road it has to apply to elected officials, to government employees, to judges, to teachers,” Gray said.
Meyers would like to see local police review boards.
On climate change and energy policy, Gray and Balint say there’s no future for nuclear, ut Meyers says it should be explored.
At one point, long-simmering campaign tensions spilled over. In May, Balint labeled Gray as a “corporatist Democrat.”
Molly Gray: Just to be clear, I never received an apology. I think you apologized to Vermonters, you apologized to the state, but there’s never been a personal apology. You can take the opportunity tonight if you want.
Becca Balint: I would be happy to. If you took offense to that comment, I apologize. If you found it hurtful, I apologize.
In their closing remarks, Meyers pitched himself as a commonsense Democrat who wants to restore trust in Congress, the country and fellow Americans.
“Rather than asking, ‘What’s in it for me?’ Turn to each other and ask, ‘How can I help?’” Meyers said.
Balint highlighted her track record on passing housing, child care and climate bills in the Vermont Senate.
“I didn’t just stand up for things, I actually passed legislation,” Balint said.
Gray took aim at super PACs that spent over a million dollars on Balint’s behalf and stressed her commitment to Vermonters.
“I have dedicated my career to service, to Vermont fighting for the things that we need,” Gray said.
There are now five days until Election Day, when one of the candidates will come out on top. Whoever does will go head to head with the Republican nominee in November.
A recent University of New Hampshire poll showed Balint has a 42% lead over Gray. Out of potential Democratic voters, 63% said they would vote for Balint, 21% would vote for Gray and 2% would vote for Meyers. However, 13% of voters were undecided. That survey was taken two weeks ago.
If you missed it, you can watch a replay of the live debate in the player below.
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