Rep. Welch in the Grind

Rep. Peter Welch visits the Grind, on South Main Street, with Lisamarie Charlesworth, of the Franklin County Regional Chamber of Commerce in 2019.

BURLINGTON — Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt. is running for U.S. Senate. 

“We are at a pivotal moment,” he said in a statement released Monday. “Vermont families are struggling through multiple crises: a global pandemic, the consequences of climate change and a racial reckoning generations in the making. The result of this election will determine control of the Senate and with it, what we can accomplish for Vermont families.”

Welch is running for the seat currently held by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who announced he would retire next year after serving at the federal level for 46 years. Welch was first elected to Vermont’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2006. 

Before winning the federal position, Welch owned a small law practice in White River Junction and represented Windsor County in the Vermont Senate. In 1985, he was unanimously elected by his colleagues to lead the state chamber, becoming the first Democrat in Vermont history to hold the position of president pro tempore.

In Monday’s announcement, Welch called on Vermonters to join him in fighting for a progressive agenda in the Senate. If elected, he said he would focus on ensuring Vermont’s working families have access to childcare and paid family leave, passing a Green New Deal, lowering health care and prescription drug costs, ensuring that women continue to have control over their own health care decisions and protecting voting rights.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., endorsed Welch Monday morning. 

"PeterWelch understands that if we are going to combat the existential threat of climate change, establish universal health care, lower the cost of prescription drugs, create good paying jobs in Vermont and protect American democracy, now is the time to think big, not small,” Sanders said in a statement. “With his years in Congress, Peter has the knowledge and experience to hit the ground running as a strong advocate for Vermont's working families and to fight for a government that works for all, and not just the wealthy few.” 

Sanders stated he is proud to endorse Welch and looks forward to serving with him in the Senate.

In a statement, Vermont Republican Party Chair Paul Dame said the state needs fresh leadership, not the “same old same old.” 

“Peter Welch is a relic of the past,” he said. “Now is the time for Vermonters to choose a candidate with an eye on the future, and Vermont Republicans will provide voters with options for a future that works – not one that continues us down the path of Welch’s ‘Imperiled Democracy.’”

Vermont Democratic Party Chair Anne Lezak disagreed, stating Monday morning that Welch is the right person for the job. 

“The Vermont Democratic Party is excited that Congressman Welch is running for the U.S. Senate,” she stated. “Sen. Leahy will be leaving big shoes to fill, and we have no doubt that Congressman Welch is more than up to the task.”

Despite the challenges he thinks Vermonters face, Welch said he’s optimistic about the future. 

“I've seen Vermonters come together to solve problems,” he stated in his announcement. “We focus on solutions, not who gets credit. That’s the Vermont way. That’s how I’ve gotten things done as Vermont’s congressman, and how I will get things done if I am elected to the U.S. Senate.”

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