Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy said Monday that he will not run for reelection to a ninth term in 2022, the latest major Democratic retirement ahead of next year’s midterms.
“I’ve reached the conclusion that it’s time to put down the gavel. It is time to pass the torch to the next Vermonter … it’s time to come home,” Leahy said at a press conference in Montpelier on Monday after recounting his legislative accomplishments during his 47 years in office.
After the Watergate hearings, and Richard Nixon’s administration, the Democratic senator was elected for the first time in 1974. He was most recently the chairman of both the Judiciary Committee (and Appropriations Committee), which helped to pass scores of laws.
Democratic Rep. Peter Welch, the state’s lone congressional representative, is considered a possible candidate for Leahy’s seat, as is Vermont Senate President Pro Tem Becca Balint (D) and state Sen. Kesha Ram-Hinsdale (D).
Vermont Governor Phil Scott, a moderate Republican, has said he wouldn’t run. National RepublicansThey are expected to lobby Scott in order for him to change his mind.
As president pro tempore of the Senate, Leahy is constitutionally the second-highest-ranking Senate official after Vice President Kamala HarrisHarris, House Speaker and third in line for presidential succession Nancy Pelosi.
Leahy was briefly hospitalized earlier this year after he began “not feeling well” in his Capitol office. Just hours after being sworn-in to lead the impeachment trial against former President Donald Trump, he was immediately taken to the hospital.
His Democratic counterparts were anxious about the health scare. The Democrats hold the majority of the chamber with a slim 50-50 vote, and Harris casts tiebreaking votes when necessary.