Speed Reads

long overdue

Vermont could soon send its 1st woman to Congress

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has decided not to seek re-election, a move that's shaking up politics in a state where open seats are a rarity.

Leahy announced on Monday that after 47 years in the Senate, he's "ready to pass the torch" to someone else. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) has suggested to colleagues that he'd like to be that person, indicating that he'll run for the seat being vacated by Leahy, people familiar with the matter told Axios. Welch, 74, has held his seat for 13 years, and while local analysts believe he'd likely face a challenger from the left in the primary, they also say he has a good shot at winning.

No woman has ever represented Vermont in Congress, but that could soon change: The state's current lieutenant governor, Democrat Molly Gray, and Democratic state Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale are considering running for Welch's seat, Axios reports. Ram Hinsdale is the first woman of color to serve in Vermont's state Senate.

Lawmakers in Vermont settle into their roles — Leahy has been a senator since 1975, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has served in Congress for 31 years — and since the state has just one House representative, it's rare for there to be an open seat. Another person who is comfortable in their position is Gov. Phil Scott (R), who won re-election by 41 points and has said multiple times he's not interested in running for Senate.