Vermont Lt. Gov. launches bid for US House

Vermont Lt. Gov. Molly Gray (D) announced on Monday that she is running for the U.S. House, hoping to fill the seat that is being vacated by Rep. Peter WelchPeter Francis WelchFormer US attorney considering Senate run in Vermont as Republican Members of Congress not running for reelection in 2022 Lowenthal becomes latest House Democrat to not seek reelection MORE (D-Vt.) as he makes a bid for the Senate.

“Our workforce is shrinking, housing is unaffordable, families are forced to choose between caring for loved ones and paying the bills, and our next generation is struggling to make it work. From affordable, quality child care to workforce development, I’m committed to working hard to bring real solutions to Vermont families. As Vermont’s Congresswoman I’ll fight for every corner of Vermont,” Gray said in a statement.

Gray was first elected lieutenant governor in 2020, beating a crowded field of Democrats in the primary — which included former state Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe —  before going on to win the general election.

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She previously served as assistant state attorney general, and also spent time as an aide to Welch in Washington.

Gray is the first candidate to jump into the race to replace Welch, who announced last month that he is running for Senate to fill the seat being vacated by Rep. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahySenate panel advances bill blocking tech giants from favoring own products Former US attorney considering Senate run in Vermont as Republican The Hill's 12:30 Report: Sen. Kaine, drivers stranded in I-95 backup MORE (D-Vt.), who revealed days before that he would not seek reelection.

Leahy’s announcement shook Vermont’s political sphere, and will likely set up a number of tight primaries in next year’s midterm elections.

Vermont Senate President Pro Tem Becca Balint and state Sen. Kesha Ram-Hinsdale have been floated as potential successors to Welch's seat, now that he is running for Senate.

If elected, Gray would become the first woman to represent the Green Mountain State in Washington.

Gray in a statement said Leahy “has set a strong example by always working together to get things done for Vermont, and that is exactly what I will bring to our delegation.”

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“I will strive to serve as he has, by bringing the values and voices of Vermonters to Washington,” she said.

“Our Vermont leadership on climate action, reproductive rights, voting rights, and human rights can be a model for the nation,” she added.

In an announcement video, the lieutenant governor said she is running for the House "because the challenges we face, from delivering rural broadband to our workforce crisis, won't be solved by Vermont alone."

"Yet we have so much to offer. As Vermonters we're scrappy and we solve all sorts of problems in our daily lives. That spirit can be a model for the nation. And our leadership on reproductive rights, voting rights, human rights and climate action can move us all forward," she added.

Before her time in politics, Gray helped launch the International Code of Conduct Association, which was the first global initiative meant to supervise how private security contractors were complying with human rights. She also helped to establish the group’s human rights monitoring program, which brought about international human rights monitoring missions, including in East Africa, Nigeria and Iraq.