Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) announced on Monday that he is running to represent Vermont in the Senate, launching a bid for the seat that opened up after Sen. Patrick Leahy (D) announced that he will not seek reelection next year.

Welch, the only lawmaker representing the Green Mountain State in the House, was largely viewed as a successor to the seat that 81-year-old Leahy first won in 1974.

In a video announcing his candidacy, Welch suggested that his campaign for Senate could determine which political party controls the upper chamber next year as Democrats look to hold their slim advantage and Republicans hope to pick up seats.

“Powerful outside interests will come to Vermont to try to advance their interests, not ours. They know an open seat in Vermont could be the difference between passing our positive agenda and Mitch McConnell controlling the Senate again,” Welch said.

“The Senate hangs in the balance, and the whole country will be looking at Vermont,” he added.

Welch, who was first elected to the House in 2006, said the election comes at a “difficult time for all Vermonters,” pointing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He also swiped at Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for stalling a number of Democratic priorities, including voting rights, “Medicare for All,” the Green New Deal, lowering prescription drug costs, reproductive justice and economic justice.

“Everything gets filibustered by the Mitch McConnell Republicans in the Senate. They’re fighting for failure,” Welch said.

The Vermont Democrat said he will serve as a senator in the same way he did in the House, placing an emphasis on listening to constituents.

“Here in Vermont we listen more than we talk. I got into politics as a community organizer after I saw what housing discrimination was doing to communities in Chicago. And I learned that the best way to help people is to start by listening, to focus on the solutions, not who gets the credit,” Welch said.

“That’s the Vermont way. It’s how I get things done as Vermont’s congressmen, and it’s how I’ll get things done if Vermont elects me your senator,” he added.

Tags Mitch McConnell Patrick Leahy Peter Welch

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