Vermont may elect first woman to Congress this year

Montpellier, Vermont (AP) — There’s a rare opening In its congressional delegation this fall, Vermont appears poised to lose its role The only country that has never been represented by women in Washington.

Three women, including Gov. Molly Gray and Senate President Becca Ballint, are among Democrats vying for the state’s only U.S. House member, a Democrat, in the Aug. 9 primary. Seat vacated by Peter Welch. Move to the Senate.two Republican candidates registered run in midterm elections Also female.

Given Vermont’s liberal reputation, it seems odd that it was the last state to send a woman to Congress. But Vermont’s sparse population makes it one of the few states with the smallest congressional delegations — two senators and one member of the House of Representatives. Vermont, like many states, traditionally re-elects its incumbents, who happen to be white males who end up serving very long periods of time. That includes Democrat Patrick Leahy, who was first elected in 1974 and is the fourth-longest-serving senator in history.

“It’s a leadership bottleneck,” said Elaine Haney, executive director of Emerge Vermont, which works to prepare women for office. “So when someone sticks with it all for a long time, it shuts down opportunities for everyone else.”

Last November, Leahy Announced that he would retire after eight terms. within a few days, Welch says he will seek Senate nomination, the general seat of the House of Representatives is vacant for the first time since Welch took over as the current senator in 2006. Bernie Sanders. Sanders has served on the congressional delegation since 1991.

Haney, whose group helped train some women running for the House of Representatives on how to run, noted that women bring a different experience to elected office than men. That’s important on issues like abortion rights, she said, Leaked draft opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court This would overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision to legalize abortion.

“I’m a firm believer — and I think a lot of others are — that if women, Democratic women, were really at the negotiating table, this threatening situation wouldn’t have happened because women’s lived experiences would be at the heart of the discussion.” and policy,” she said.

Democratic candidates support abortion rights.One Vermont referendum in November to write reproductive rights into state constitution, the first such amendment in the country. The state also has a law protecting a woman’s right to abortion.

“We need leaders going to Washington to explicitly ensure that Roe v. Wade is codified at the federal level, which I know is a priority for women[in the Democratic Party]in this race,” Gray said.

Welch was also an ardent supporter of abortion rights and called on Congress to codify abortion rights. He believes electing a woman as his successor will encourage more young people to run for office.

“This is an all-hands time, and I couldn’t be more excited about our state because these women have stepped up to the challenge,” Welch said in a statement. “Each candidate is unique and makes Incredibly talented and I know that they will use their experience to work hard for Vermonters in Congress should they be elected.”

Vermont remains an outlier at a time when the number of women serving in Washington is rising. Montana in 1916 made Rep. Jeannette Rankin the first woman elected to Congress, four years before the 19th Amendment secured women’s constitutional right to vote.

since then, nearly 400 women has served as a representative, representative, resident commissioner or senator of the United States,

In 2018, when Mississippi Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith was appointed to the Senate, Vermont became the last state to have no female representation in Congress.

The women seeking the Democratic nomination in the Vermont House race have not focused their campaigns on the possibility that one of them will be the first woman from the state elected to Congress. Affordable housing and tackling the climate crisis, among other core priorities of the party.

“They’re not very divided on a lot of these issues, and I think the election is going to move to other things, like temperament and experience, and frankly, visibility,” said politician Matthew Dickinson. Professor of Science at Middlebury College.

Gray, the lieutenant governor, was elected in 2020 in her first bid for political office. She is a lawyer and former assistant state attorney general.

Balint served eight years in the state Senate, six of them in leadership roles and the last two as interim president. She used to be a middle school teacher.

The third Democratic candidate, Sianay Chase Clifford, is a social worker in Essex who worked in Washington for Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Massachusetts.

There are other ways that candidates can make history. If elected, Balint would be the first openly gay person to represent Vermont in Congress, while Chase Clifford would be the first person of color to represent the state in Washington.

The Republican candidates registered for the House seat are accountant Ericka Redic, who lost a state Senate race in 2020, and Anya Tynio, who ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018 and lost.

Redick said she will focus on fighting inflation, illegal immigration, drug abuse and government overreach, especially when it comes to vaccine authorization. Tinho said on her website that she is a supporter of the Second Amendment, a supporter of strong border security and the implementation of legislation that would reduce inflation, cut the national debt and balance the budget.

Two men, an independent from Brattleboro and a Democrat from South Burlington, are also running for House seats, but neither reported raising any money.

While this fall’s election could shatter Vermont’s glass ceiling, the state is likely to have other job openings in the next few years.

Sanders, an independent, is 80 years old and will face re-election in 2024. Welch is 75 years old.

Haney said she would like to see all of Vermont’s top electoral positions be held by women.

“Throughout our history, we’ve normalized male leadership. We’ve gotten used to seeing only men in charge, and we’re like, ‘Oh, that’s fine,'” she said. “There’s nothing wrong with all women being in charge, that’s what I want to see.”

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