Sen. Patrick Leahy Not Running For Reelection

The Senate’s longest-serving Democrat is retiring after 47 years in office — the latest major retirement ahead of 2022's midterm elections.

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 after recounting his legislative accomplishments during his 47 years in office.

The Democratic lawmaker was first elected to the Senate in 1974, following the Watergate hearings and the Richard Nixon administration. Most recently he served as chairman of the Judiciary Committee and Appropriations Committee, helping enact scores of bills into law and broker several major deals to fund the government.

Democratic Rep. Peter Welch, 74, 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 is the only state never to send a woman to Congress.

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, a moderate Republican, has said he won’t run. National Republicans are expected to lobby Scott and change his mind.

As president pro tempore of the Senate, Leahy is constitutionally the second-highest-ranking Senate official after Vice President Kamala Harris, and third in the line of presidential succession behind Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. If Democrats manage to retain control of the Senate next year, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein would be next in line to serve as president pro tempore of the Senate.

Leahy was briefly hospitalized earlier this year after he began “not feeling well” in his Capitol office. He was sent to the hospital for an evaluation just hours after being sworn in to preside over the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump.

The health scare prompted anxiety among his Democratic colleagues. Democrats currently control the chamber by a narrow 50-50 majority, with Harris casting tie-breaking votes as needed. They’ll need all 50 Democrats in order to pass President Joe Biden’s social spending and climate package, the Build Back Better Act, as well to fill a Supreme Court vacancy, should one arise.

Aside from his lengthy career in public office, Leahy is sole member of Congress to have been featured in several of the Batman movies ― five, in fact.

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