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A review of the Vermont U.S. Senate primary candidates

U.S. Senate plaque
Pat Bradley
/
WAMC
U.S. Senate plaque displayed during a press conference by Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy

Vermont U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy is retiring at the end of his eighth term. There are now seven candidates seeking to replace him. Next week Vermonters will choose which of the Democrats and Republicans will appear on the November general election ballot.

The upcoming retirement of Senator Patrick Leahy has opened up a rare Vermont political opportunity.

The Democrats running for the seat are Isaac Evans-Frantz, Nikki Thran and Congressman Peter Welch.

Welch announced his Senate campaign in late November but did not hold his virtual kick-off event until mid-January.

“We have enormous challenges but they can be addressed if we have a Senate that is committed to having the authority of government be working on behalf of everyday people.”

Niki Thran is an ER physician who says the Senate needs civil people of intelligence.

“I think we need change. We need to send a woman to D.C. and I want to be Vermont’s first female Senator. I have a passion and we need to lift health care in this country to a higher standard.”

Brattleboro Democrat Isaac Evans-Franz is a global activist and organizer. He says the country is facing enormous challenges and is running for the Senate because of the urgency of the crises facing humanity.

“The climate crisis. We need somebody who’s going to stand up for economic justice. We need somebody who’s going to fight for Medicare-for-All and who’s really going to stand up for democracy.”

Republican candidates in the August 9th primary are Gerald Malloy, Myers Mermel and Christina Nolan.

Army veteran and business consultant Malloy describes himself as a conservative Republican.

“Our nation is in trouble and I will fight to turn our country around. I support parent’s rights and I will fight against unconstitutional acts. This is about saving America from becoming a welfare nation dependent on stimulus as government chips away at our rights. That’s not what this veteran has served for. I will serve all Vermonters as a Republican for a better future for Vermont.”

Nolan, a former U.S. Attorney for Vermont, describes herself as a New England Republican, more nontraditional and independent.

“I’m running for many of the same reasons I wanted to be U.S. Attorney which is to serve the people of Vermont and address the issues that I think are not going in the right direction. Whether it be rising crime, violent crime in Vermont and across the country; whether it be the steep rise in overdose deaths; whether it be the staggering inflation, which is a crushing tax on the working class families of Vermont and many other issues. And I believe people are ready for a new generation of leadership.”

Commercial banker Mermel, who campaigned for New York governor in 2010, says the Republican Party is split and he is the true conservative candidate.

“It’s clear the Republican party is divided. Half of the party wants to embrace democrat policies and the other half wants to return us to the Republican Party of a hundred years ago. Neither way will work. I have many new ideas to improve the devastating effects of liberal policy upon Vermont. Please understand that I’m trying to free us from the effects of this liberal policy that have held us back for years. We will defeat the Democrat-Socialist machine that has ruled this seat and this state for at least 48 years.”

Progressive Martha Abbott is the only candidate running in that party’s race for Senate.

In a University of New Hampshire poll commissioned by WCAX News and released last week, Welch is leading the Democrats with 82 percent. Evans-Franz is polling at 6 percent and Thran at 1 percent. In the Republican race Gerald Malloy leads Christina Nolan 30 to 24 percent with Myers Mermel trailing at 3 percent. Undecided GOP voters outpace the three candidates at 42 percent.

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