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Balint Prevails in Vermont’s Democratic House Primary

Becca Balint, the chairwoman of Vermont’s state Senate, won the Democratic Party primary on Tuesday for the state’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, making history by potentially becoming the first out gay woman and the first woman to represent the state in Congress.

It’s conceivable that the Democratic candidate in deep-blue Vermont will win the general election in November as well. A victory for Balint, a white man, would help to dispel what some see as the stigma that the liberal state only elects white men to office.

Balint received backing from the state party’s progressive wing, which included independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, as well as from national progressive figures like Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, who serves as chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Late last month, Balint joined Sanders in campaigning.

With the backing of the state’s Democratic establishment, including retired U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy and former governors Howard Dean and Madeleine Kunin, Balint defeated Lt. Gov. Molly Gray, a more moderate contender.

Balint expressed her gratitude to her primary opponents in a statement, adding that she felt “humbled and honoured by this triumph.”

“Our state has made great strides tonight. I’ll be delighted to represent Vermont in Congress because of our state’s strong, forward-thinking vision for the future, said Balint. “We can safeguard democracy, combat climate change, eliminate inequality, and improve the health care system for all. We will, I am confident.

Gray said during her concession speech that she had called Balint to congratulate her on the victory.


Gray added, “While my disappointment is real, so too is my appreciation for his opportunity. “Vermonters heard from candidates who were highly competent throughout this difficult contest.”

Democratic U.S. Rep. Peter Welch was also chosen by Vermont voters to succeed Leahy, who has held the position since 1975 and was the final member of Congress to be implicated in the Watergate scandal. For the first time since 2006, the three-member congressional delegation from Vermont had an available seat in the House thanks to Welch’s decision to run for the Senate.

To go to the general election in November, Welch handily defeated two obscure opponents. Welch, one of Vermont’s top vote-getters during his time in Congress, would be the overwhelming favourite to win the general election.

In the Republican primary for the Senate seat held on Tuesday, Welch will compete against retired U.S. Army commander Gerald Malloy, who defeated former U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan.

Even though since the late Sen. Jim Jeffords defected from the GOP to become an independent in 2001, which gave the Democratic Party control of the Senate, no Republican has represented Connecticut in Washington, Malloy says he is confident he can win in November.

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In his bid for a fourth term, incumbent Republican Governor Phil Scott easily defeated two challengers to win his party’s primary.

Brenda Siegel, a Newfane activist, is the only person running for the Democratic nomination. She spent 27 nights sleeping on the Vermont Statehouse steps last fall to draw attention to the state’s homelessness problem.

Ericka Redic of Burlington and Anya Tynio of Charleston were defeated in the GOP primary by Marine veteran Liam Madden, who runs as an unconventional candidate.

When he discovered that doing so would allow the party to select a substitute for the November ballot, Madden, who describes himself as independent, said he thought about withdrawing the nomination if he won.

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