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Longest Serving Dem Senator Opens Door for Another GOP Flip

DCStockPhotography / Shutterstock.com
DCStockPhotography / Shutterstock.com

As we draw closer to 2022 and its much-anticipated midterm elections for both the House of Representatives and the Senate, it’s becoming more and more clear that every vote will count, and every congressional seat will matter.

As you well know, in the Senate, the seats are currently completely tied up with 50 Democratic seats and 50 Republican ones. And yes, that includes the small number of independents who currently caucus with the Democratic Party. As a result, the only tie-breaking vote goes to Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris, which gives her party the majority, albeit at the slimmest of margins.

And that means that in the upcoming elections, the GOP would need only one Democrat seat to be flipped to get the majority back.

One of those seats could be from Vermont, as the state’s longest-serving Senator Patrick Leahy has just announced his retirement.

The 81-year-old told CNN, “It’s time to put down the gavel. It is time to pass the torch to the next Vermonter, who’ll carry on this work for our great state. It’s time to come home.”

Leahy has been in office since 1975 and, as such, is the Senate’s president pro tempore and the third in line when it comes to presidential succession.

So now comes the question of who will take his place…

The most reasonable choice for pretty much anyone in the state would be the current sitting governor, Republican Phil Scott. However, as Scott’s press secretary Jason Maulucci has reported on a number of occasions, Scott seems to have no interest in joining the Senate.

According to CNN, Maulucci said, “Governor Scott has been clear that he is not running for the U.S. Senate next year. That has not changed.”

But if not Scott, then who?

Well, according to a professor of political science at Middlebury College, the next likely choice would be the state’s one and only congressional representative, a Democrat by the name of Peter Welch. Dickinson told The Associated Press, “I think he (Welch) would be the logical candidate, and that would set up the musical chairs about who replaces him in Congress.”

And he’s not exactly wrong. As far as position goes, Welch does seem to be the next “logical” choice. The only problem, at least for conservative voters like myself, is that, well, he’s not Republican. And as I’m sure you are well aware, the other Vermont Senator, self-proclaimed Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders, isn’t either.

But at this point, no one else really stands out for either side.

As Dickinson explained, no one else in the small New England state likely has enough name cred or “statewide reputation” to take on such a senatorial run and win. At least not on the Republican side and not beyond Scott.

According to the professor, Scott is just about the only man or woman who currently has enough popularity to make a go of it from his side of the bench.

But, as I mentioned before, there is currently no great likelihood that Scott will change his mind about running for the Upper House come 2022.

Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean the chances of Vermont becoming a little redder are impossible. Even if Scott doesn’t run and Welch does, assuming that the latter wins the seat, he will be vacating a House of Representatives seat.

As you likely know, the margin of majority is lower in the House and is nearly as thin as that in the Senate. Currently, it would only take about 12 seats to get the House to flip from blue to red. And while GOP candidates for the Senate are a rare find in this particular Northeastern state, when it comes to names for a Lower House candidate who stands in the red, the likelihood is a little greater.

As Steven Law, the president of the Senate Leadership Fund, a GOP super PAC, says, “As angry Americans continue to register their discontent with Democratic mismanagement of the country, there is little doubt this is the canary in the coal mine for Democrats’ fragile Senate majority.”

So, either way you look at it, Leahy’s departure is bound to lead to a Republican majority, likely in both Houses.