Balint announces run for U.S. House of Representatives

The Senate president pro tempore, from Brattleboro, kicks off campaign in Montpelier

BRATTLEBORO — Vermont Senate President Pro Tem Becca Balint, D-Brattleboro, made it official on Dec. 13: She will be running for Congress in 2022.

At her campaign kickoff event at the Vermont History Museum in Montpelier, Balint said that she is running for the Democratic nomination “because we're facing huge challenges. Working families are struggling, the pandemic is raging on, real climate action can't wait, and our democracy itself is at risk. The future feels perilous. We can't tackle these challenges if we remain divided.”

The 53-year-old former middle school social studies teacher joins Lt. Gov. Molly Gray as the first two Democratic candidates running to succeed U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, who last month announced he was running for the U.S. Senate after longtime incumbent Democrat Patrick Leahy announced his retirement.

A possible third Democratic candidate for the House seat whose name has come up frequently, Chittenden County Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale, has not yet announced her intentions.

No Republican candidates have declared their candidacy for either the U.S. House or U.S. Senate. The only Republican holding a statewide office in Vermont, Gov. Phil Scott, has already said he won't run for either seat.

Balint was elected to one of Windham County's two state Senate seats in 2014 in her first attempt at running for political office. The first openly gay woman to be elected to the Vermont Senate, she quickly rose through the Senate's leadership ranks and was elected majority leader in 2017 and as president pro tem this year.

Vermont has never elected a woman to Congress - the only state in the Union to hold that dubious distinction.

In an announcement sent to supporters, Balint wrote that her record as a state senator, where she “worked to increase affordable housing, lend a helping hand during the pandemic, expand access to voting, and pass the strongest reproductive rights protections in the nation” makes her the person who can break that barrier.

“Everyone should have good jobs, affordable housing, and quality health care,” she wrote. “We can make it happen together. No one left behind, no one forgotten - that will be my mission when I become the first congresswoman from Vermont.”

Balint is off to a fast start in fundraising. A one-hour Zoom event for supporters on Dec. 13 raised more than $10,000, and she announced on Dec. 14 that she ended her first day of campaigning with a total of $125,000 in donations from every county in Vermont.

Gray entered the House race on Dec. 4. She announced, in a news release that came out about an hour after Balint's announcement, that her campaign has raised more than $110,000 in its first week.

Both Balint and Gray say they will not accept corporate PAC money.

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