Balint tops Gray in US House Dem primary
BRATTLEBORO, Vt. (WCAX) - Becca Balint prevailed over Molly Gray to win Tuesday’s closely watched Democratic U.S. House primary to replace Congressman Peter Welch.
With about 30% of precincts reporting, the AP called the race for Balint, who was winning by a 62% to 36% margin.
During a celebration at Brooks House in Brattleboro, the Democratic nominee for Congress was introduced on stage by her wife in front of a cheering crowd. If elected she will become Vermont’s first female congresswoman and first LGBTG candidate. Balint was also joined on stage by her entire campaign team. During her victory speech Balint said her campaign is not about herself, but ordinary Vermonters who, in some cases are struggling to get by.
“Economic justice and economic injustice doesn’t just happen. These are policy decisions. These are decisions that we make. Hunger, unfortunately, is a policy choice. Homelessness is a policy choice. We can and must make different choices,” Balint told the crowd.
“We didn’t anticipate quite an early victory this night. We thought it was going to be a long night,” Balint told supporters earlier.
Gray conceded the race to Balint in a call around 8:45 p.m. and congratulated her. “I can say that while my disappointment is profound, so too is my gratitude for this opportunity. This was a deeply tough race with incredibly qualified candidates making their case to Vermonters,” Gray told WCAX.
Balint, a teacher from Brattleboro, was first elected to the Vermont Senate in 2014. She became the first female and openly gay president pro tem last year. Throughout the campaign, she emphasized her tested leadership experience at the Statehouse.
The once-in-a-generation congressional race was defined by big spending -- both from the campaigns and outside groups -- as well as key endorsements. Balint got a big boost from the support of Sen. Bernie Sanders. 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 also earned the endorsements of former Governors Howard Dean and Madeline Kunin.
Balint will face Liam Madden, the winner of the GOP primary, although the race is not considered competitive.
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