Sen. Patrick Leahy says he won't seek reelection

Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyThese Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Senate panel advances bill blocking tech giants from favoring own products Former US attorney considering Senate run in Vermont as Republican MORE (D-Vt.) announced on Monday that he will not seek reelection next year, setting the stage for a potentially bruising Democratic primary.

 “It is time to pass the torch to the next Vermonter who will carry on this work for our great state. It’s time to come home," Leahy said, speaking from the same room in Vermont's State House where he launched his first Senate campaign in 1974. 

Leahy, 81, has served eight terms in the upper chamber. He is currently the president pro tempore of the Senate, the second highest ranking position in the chamber. He also serves as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and sits on the Judiciary and the Agriculture committees.
 
 
Leahy is the only Democrat from Vermont that has been elected to the Senate. 
 
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) released a statement on Monday calling Leahy a "lion of the Senate." 
 
"Vermont is a blue state that has not elected a Republican to statewide federal office in more than 20 years, and Democrats look forward to winning this Senate seat in 2022," said Sen. Gary PetersGary PetersDemocrats make final plea for voting rights ahead of filibuster showdown Michigan Republican John James 'strongly considering' House run Officials point to Apache vulnerability in urging passage of cyber incident reporting bill MORE (D-Mich.), the chairman of the DSCC. 
 
A Republican has not filed to run for Leahy's seat. Meanwhile, a number of potential Democratic contenders have been floated, including Rep. Peter WelchPeter Francis WelchThese Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Former US attorney considering Senate run in Vermont as Republican Members of Congress not running for reelection in 2022 MORE, state Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint, state Sen. Kesha Ram-Hinsdale and Lt. Gov. Molly Gray. A woman has yet to represent Vermont on Capitol Hill.

The course of the primary could largely depend on Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSunday shows preview: US reaffirms support for Ukraine amid threat of Russian invasion Filibuster becomes new litmus test for Democrats Gallego says he's been approached about challenging Sinema MORE's (I-Vt.) endorsement. It is unclear whether Sanders will endorse Welch, if he runs.