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Vermont to elect first wife to Congress

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Vermont to elect first wife to Congress

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Sen’s next retirement. Patrick leahy (D-Vt.), The current longest-serving Senate member, is leading the way in Vermont to send a woman to Congress for the first time in history.

All thanks to a political musical chairs tour triggered by Leahy’s November announcement that he won’t run again next year.

Representative Peter Welch (R), Vermont’s sole representative in the House, launched his campaign to succeed Leahy shortly after Leahy’s announcement. With the blessing of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a giant of state politics, Welch is seen as a virtual lock to the Democratic nomination in the liberal state.

The main candidates for Welch’s successor in the House are all women: Vermont Lieutenant Governor Molly Gray, State Senate Speaker Becca Balint and State Senator Kesha Ram Hinsdale.

Gray, who launched her candidacy for the soon-to-be-opened seat on Monday, is the only one of the trio to officially announce her candidacy so far. But Ram Hinsdale and Balint openly entertain a race.

In addition, State Representative Tanya Vyhovsky, who was planning a Senate race before Welch announced her candidacy with Sanders’ approval, told HuffPost that she was making time during the winter break. evaluate his options.

While a male candidate may still enter the race, progressives in Vermont are hoping the state can shed its status as the only one in the country who has never sent a woman to Congress. The state’s Congressional Democratic primary, in which all voters are invited to participate, is scheduled to take place on August 9, 2022.

“I am proud to be able to work with a Republican governor and a strong, progressive Democratic majority in the legislature.”

– Vermont Lieutenant Governor Molly Gray (D)

“This cycle could represent the start of a great generational shift in Vermont politics,” said Cameron Russell, a Vermont Democratic agent who is not affiliated with any campaign. “And maybe this will finally be our opportunity to send a woman to Washington.”

The fight to succeed Welch is also likely to impact the ideological balance of power in Congress. Vermont was once a hub for the now defunct Liberal wing of the Republican Party, but the sparsely populated state has become a stronghold of progressive politics in recent decades.

Sanders, who is not going anywhere, is the country’s most famous and influential leftist.

Leahy, who was elected Vermont’s first-ever Democratic senator in 1974, and Welch, who sits on powerful committees, are only moderates unlike populist Sanders. Both men are reliable progressives by national standards, co-sponsoring Sanders’ Medicare for All legislation and acting as strong advocates for measures designed to lower prescription drug prices, limit climate change and protect civil liberties.

Yet whoever takes over from Welch will determine whether the newest member of the state House of Representatives takes an ideologically closer approach to Sanders, closer to Leahy and Welch, or some other vintage. .

Gray, a Medicare for All supporter who serves under Republican Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, is said to be the most moderate of the group.

Gray told HuffPost on Monday that she plans to focus on going beyond paid family leave and creating affordable housing to help Vermont attract and retain young families.

“We are one of the oldest states in the country with a shrinking workforce, an aging population and a prolific demographic crisis and we have the opportunity to bring new leadership, new ideas to Congress,” said she declared.

Vermont State Senator Kesha Ram Hinsdale (R), left, and State Senate Speaker Becca Balint (R), center, both envision a run for Congress. State Representative Tanya Vyhovsky (D, P), right, was planning to run for the Senate and is now reconsidering her options.

When asked if she was closer to Sanders or closer to Leahy and Welch in her opinions, Gray replied, “I’m closer to Molly Gray.”

“I am proud to be able to work with a Republican governor and a strong, progressive Democratic majority in the legislature,” she added.

Gray, a human rights lawyer who grew up on a farm in South Newbury, declined to say whether she would join the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

“I will work with anyone who is willing to work hard for Vermonters,” she said.

It also bills itself as the surest bet for victory in a general election that it cautions voters not to take for granted.

“We have one of the most popular Republican governors in the country with an extremely high approval rating,” Gray said. “We’re going to see Republicans nationwide look to Vermont as a place where they can gain traction and maybe even win. “

The Congressional Republican National Committee, which helps elect Republicans to the House, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on its plans in Vermont.

Ram Hinsdale, a Burlington resident who advises organizations on how to be more diverse, inclusive and equitable, has a more progressive profile than Gray. She told HuffPost that she is “deeply exploring” a House election and that if elected she would join the Congressional Progressive Caucus – although she also called herself a “pretty handy progressive” that finds something to admire in the approaches of Sanders and Welch.

“I am naturally the most progressive candidate in the race because of my lived experience,” said Ram Hinsdale. “I continued to fight for unpopular issues which are now after racial reckoning and another economic free fall becoming mainstream ideas.”

Ram Hinsdale, who is half South Asian and half Jewish, moved to Vermont for her college education and became the first woman of color to serve in the Vermont State Senate.

One of the things Ram Hinsdale thinks he has a head start on is how environmental pollution disproportionately harms marginalized communities. She is the main sponsor of an environmental justice bill that would require state agencies to study the ways in which low-income people and blacks, Indigenous people and people of color are disproportionately affected by human rights. environmental hazards and pollution.

“In Vermont, our dream is really how much you help your neighbor and how much you lift up each other. “

– State of Vermont, Senator Kesha Ram Hinsdale (D)

It’s all part of Ram Hinsdale’s plan to expand the reach of the “Vermont Dream,” which she says is more communal than the individualistic “American Dream.”

“In Vermont, our dream is really how much you help your neighbor and how uplifting each other,” said Ram Hinsdale.

“Since I have been here, I have been very proud and honored to experience this, even though I know that in a particularly homogeneous rural state, not everyone can experience this,” she added. “So, as the first woman of color in the State Senate, I tried to open that door for other people to come in from the cold and feel that community warmth that we have in Vermont. “

HuffPost reached out to Balint for an interview, but did not receive a response. Balint, an educator by profession, is also said to be Vermont’s first openly gay congressman.

The Democratic House primary in Vermont is likely to receive more attention than if the Senate primary were more competitive.

Some progressives in the state are still worried about Sanders’ decision to back Welch, while assuring that Welch, who is already 74, will become the candidate.

Among those Vermonters who are running for Congress or considering running, Vyhovsky, a social worker, most clearly evokes Sanders’ anti-establishment style. Taking advantage of Vermont’s unique fusion voting system, she is running as both a Democrat and a member of the more left-wing Progressive Party.

“I’m much more out of the establishment than any of these three as far as I choose to run with a third party,” Vyhovsky said. “It has consequences and the fact of being excluded from these spaces.”

Vyhovsky’s independence is evident in his willingness to express his dissatisfaction with the way the Senate field has formed.

“In politics all around, I struggle with this idea that people are anointed at these seats and there’s not really a conversation about it,” she said.

Gray does not intend to support in the race for the Senate, but Ram hinsdale and Balint have both endorsed Welch.

“The people of Vermont don’t like an anointing, but I don’t think that’s what it has been or continues to be,” Ram Hinsdale said. “Congressman Welch is the best fit for the job.”

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