Sen. Patrick Leahy says he won't seek reelection

Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyFormer US attorney considering Senate run in Vermont as Republican The Hill's 12:30 Report: Sen. Kaine, drivers stranded in I-95 backup Senate delays vote as DC hit by snowstorm 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 PetersMichigan Republican John James 'strongly considering' House run Officials point to Apache vulnerability in urging passage of cyber incident reporting bill US concerns grow over potential Russian cyber targeting of Ukraine amid troop buildup 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 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, 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 SandersSanders calls out Manchin, Sinema ahead of filibuster showdown Hispanic Caucus lawmaker won't attend meeting with VP Harris's new aide The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats see victory in a voting rights defeat MORE's (I-Vt.) endorsement. It is unclear whether Sanders will endorse Welch, if he runs.