A review of the race for Vermont's at-large U.S. House seat
Vermont’s primary election Tuesday is offering voters numerous candidates from the major parties for the state’s top seats. Four Democrats and three Republicans have been vying for the rarely available U.S. House seat.
Vermont’s only seat in the U.S. House opened when Democrat Peter Welch, elected in 2006, announced he would run to replace retiring U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy.
Two of the leaders of the Vermont Legislature entered the Democratic primary.
Lieutenant Governor Molly Gray is serving her first term. She has been emphasizing her experience as Lieutenant Governor and working as an aide in Congress.
“We have an opportunity to write the next chapter for our state and I have nearly a half decade working in, of experience working in, and with Congress. And I know I have the experience in this moment to be a very effective leader for our state and to deliver for our working families and our rural communities.”
Vermont Senate President ProTem Becca Balint points to her record of passing progressive bills that help working families in Vermont.
“You know I’m really called to this moment as a middle school teacher and as a parent. I’m known as someone who will engage with people even when we disagree. I do have the most experience as a leader here. But really I’m drawn to this race because there is so much work that we need to get done for working families and we also have the big elephant in the room which is: is the democracy going to survive.”
Gray is supported by Senator Patrick Leahy while Balint has been endorsed by Senator Bernie Sanders.
The only male among the Democrats is Dr. Louis Meyers, who says health care issues are his passion.
“I’m going to work to bring back independent practices, primary care and make our health care more efficient and more affordable.”
Among the Republicans, Rockingham Marine Corps veteran Liam Madden says he is running to highlight the inadequacies of the two-party system.
“The main reason that I’m running is because I do not believe that the two party system is capable of solving our problems. The two-party system does not represent us. It is driving us apart and we can do so much better.”
His criticism of the parties was called out by challenger Anya Tynio during a June VTDigger debate.
“I believe we need to liberate ourselves from the two-party system. It does not solve our problems. It does not represent us. It drives us apart.”
“And yet here you are,” interrupts Anya Tynio.
“That’s absurd," retorts Madden. "If you want to win in this election you need to get in front of voters and that’s why I’m here.”
A West Charleston resident, Tynio represents Orleans County within the state GOP and has been on its platform committee. She doubts the 2020 election results and in that June debate inaccurately claimed the outcome has yet to be legitimized.
1 :18 “I would hope discussing election fraud would help to secure future elections. And I would personally like to see a bipartisan committee appointed to oversee the voting machines prior to and just after elections. I do believe that we have a serious problem with voter fraud and also with foreign interference.”
Republican Ericka Redic, a Burlington accountant, says Congress needs people who understand and knows how to budget.
“I know how to do budgets. You know with a $30 trillion debt and climbing we see the federal government just kind of like taking the money out of the pockets of American citizens. So what we really need is someone who represents Vermonters and Americans who thinks about their pocketbook.”
Democrat Sianay Chase Clifford is on the primary ballot but withdrew from the race on July 19th due to “lack of resources”. Ballots at that time had been finalized. In January state Senator Kesha Ram Hinsdale entered the race but she dropped out in late May and is running for re-election to her Vermont Senate seat.
Barbara Nolfi is the only Progressive in the field.
Two recent polls show Balint with a strong lead among the Democratic candidates.
A University of New Hampshire poll commissioned by WCAX TV released last week shows Balint with 63 percent support versus Gray with 21 percent. Meyers receives 2 percent and 13 percent are undecided.
In the poll of Republicans, Redic leads Madden 15 to 14 percent with Tynio at 9 percent. The majority of Republican primary voters – 58 percent – are undecided.
A Data for Progress poll released August 1st found Balint with a 32-point lead over Gray. That poll did not survey Republicans.