MONTPELIER — After nearly a half-century in the political arena, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., announced Monday he will retire from the U.S. Senate in January 2023.
Come November 2022, the senator will not seek a ninth term. He has held one of Vermont’s two Senate seats since 1974.
“I will not run for re-election,” Leahy said during a press conference Monday morning at the Statehouse. “It is important to me to announce that here at home, just a few yards from where I grew up as a child in Montpelier.”
Leahy cited a desire to “pass the torch” to the next Vermonter as a reason for his retirement.
For the first time since 2006, Vermont will have the opportunity to send a new face to Congress. The last new Vermonter to head to Washington was Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt. — the state’s lone representative in the U.S. House.
Leahy’s open seat also provides the opportunity for Vermont to send a woman to Congress. The Green Mountain State is the only state not to have done so.
Three Democratic women are considered top contenders in the congressional race: Vermont Senate President Pro Tem, Becca Balint, D-Windham; Democratic Lt. Gov. Molly Gray; and Vermont Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale, D-Chittenden, according to VTDigger.
In addition, Vermont Rep. Tanya Vyhovsky, D-Chittenden, announced Monday she was exploring a Senate run.
Leahy currently serves as Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Formerly, he chaired the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry and Judiciary committees.
Leahy is also the president pro tempore of the Senate, a largely ceremonial position that puts him third in line for the presidency after the vice-president and speaker of the house.
“I am proud to be Vermont’s longest serving senator because I know my time in the Senate has made a difference for Vermonters and often well beyond,” he said during the press conference. “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 U.S. Senate and Vermont values across the world.”