FILE - Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., attends a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies hearing with Attorney General Merrick Garland, on Capitol Hill in Washington, on June 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool, File)
MONTPELIER, Vt. — Democratic Sen Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the longest-serving member of the Senate, said Monday he will not seek reelection in 2022 to the seat he has held for eight terms.
Leahy, 81, said he and his wife, Marcelle, have concluded that “it is time to pass the torch to the next Vermonter who will carry on this work for our great state. It’s time to come home.”
The announcement marks the end of a political era. First elected to the Senate in 1974, Leahy is the last of the so-called Watergate babies who were elected after President Richard Nixon’s resignation. During his nearly half-century in the Senate, Vermont shifted from one of the most solidly Republican states in the country to one of its most progressive.
That transition will be critical to Democrats who hope to maintain control of the Senate after next year’s midterm elections. With the chamber evenly divided, the party can’t afford to lose any of its current seats.
Leahy will leave the Senate with a record of promoting human rights, working to ban landmines and protect individual privacy rights. He has been a champion of the environment, especially of Lake Champlain, the body of water that separates northern Vermont from upstate New York.
By retiring and creating the first vacancy in Vermont’s congressional delegation since 2006, Leahy sets up a scramble to succeed him among a number of the state’s up-and-coming politicians.
Matthew Dickinson, a political science professor at Middlebury College, said a likely choice to succeed Leahy would be Democratic Rep. Peter Welch, the state’s lone member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Dickinson said that Welch’s fundraising is going well and noted that the 74-year-old Welch has enjoyed consistently high approval ratings.
“I think he would be the logical candidate, and that would set up the musical chairs about who replaces him in Congress,” Dickinson said.
It’s uncertain which Republican Party candidates might seek their party’s nomination to run in the November election. It’s unclear whether Phil Scott, the state’s Republican governor who frequently criticized former President Donald Trump and has called for civility in politics, would be interested in running.
Leahy is chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the senior-most member of both the Senate Judiciary and Agriculture committees.
Earlier this year, Leahy, during his third stint as president pro tem of the Senate, presided over the second impeachment trial of then-President Donald Trump.
In September, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the longest-serving Republican senator, said he would seek an eighth term in 2022, giving the party more confidence in holding that seat as it fights to overtake the Democrats’ one-vote advantage thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris’ role as tiebreaker.
Leahy said he was proud of his service to his state and his work to make a difference for residents of Vermont.
“I know I have been there for my state when I was needed most. I know I have taken our best ideas and helped them grow. I brought Vermont’s voice to the United States Senate and Vermont values across the world,” he said.
BETHESDA, Md. — President Joe Biden “continues to be fit for duty,” his doctor wrote Wednesday after conducting an annual physical that is being closely watched as the 81-year-old seeks reelection in November.
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to decide whether former President Donald Trump can be prosecuted on charges he interfered with the 2020 election and set a course for a quick resolution.
ATHENS - On the one-year grim anniversary of a head-on train crash just outside a tunnel in central Greece, which killed 57 people, promises made in the immediate aftermath to add long-delayed safety measures haven’t been met.
WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans have blocked legislation that would protect access to in vitro fertilization, objecting to a vote on the issue Wednesday even after widespread backlash to a recent ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court that threatens the practice.
KUNA, Idaho — Idaho halted the execution of serial killer Thomas Eugene Creech on Wednesday after medical team members repeatedly failed to find a vein where they could establish an intravenous line to carry out the lethal injection.
Sign up for a subscription
Want to save this article? Get a subscription to access this feature and more!
Have an idea for a story, or know of an event we should cover? We want to hear about it!
The National Herald is the paper of record of the Greek Diaspora community. Through independent journalism, we bring news to generations of Greek-Americans, with stories on the individual, community and international level. Visit and support our 106 year-old sister publication Εθνικός Κήρυξ.
You’re reading 1 of 3 free articles this month. Get unlimited access to The National Herald. or Log In