Bernie Sanders Endorses Balint in Vermont's U.S. House Race | Politics | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Bernie Sanders Endorses Balint in Vermont's U.S. House Race


Published July 6, 2022 at 3:20 p.m.
Updated August 16, 2022 at 9:05 p.m.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) - FILE: JAMIE GEMMITI
  • File: Jamie Gemmiti
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has endorsed Becca Balint, Vermont's Senate president, in her run for the state's lone U.S. House seat.

In a written statement, Sanders lauded Balint, who has served in the state Senate since 2015, as someone who "does the work" as a "voice for rural Vermonters" and as a "champion for the working class."

“Becca understands that if we are going to combat the existential threat of climate change, establish universal health care and mental health care for all, create good paying jobs in Vermont and protect American democracy, we need leaders who have the courage to challenge the status quo," Sanders said. "Becca has that courage.”

The endorsement from one of the nation's most popular politicians comes at a crucial time in the race. Early voting has begun ahead of the August 9 primary. Balint and Lt. Gov. Molly Gray are considered the Democratic front-runners in the race, which is likely more competitive than November's general election will be. Also running for the Dem nomination are Sianay Chase Clifford, a former congressional aide, and Dr. Louis Meyers.

All four are scheduled to debate Wednesday night at 8 p.m. on WPTZ-TV.
Sen. Becca Balint at a debate - SCREENSHOT
  • Screenshot
  • Sen. Becca Balint at a debate
Balint is considered more progressive on many issues than is Gray, who has pitched herself as following in the footsteps of retiring U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and U.S. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), who is running for U.S. Senate.

Sanders spent 16 years as Vermont's U.S. representative before running in 2006 for the Senate seat he now holds. Several other members of Congress have also endorsed Balint, including U.S. Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus; Jamie Raskin (D-Md.); Mark Pocan (D-Wis.); David Cicilline (D-R.I.); Ro Khanna (D-Calif.); and Mark Takano (D-Calif.).

“Becca is a person of deep integrity," Sanders said in his statement. "She is the kind of person we need in Congress. That’s why I’m proud to endorse Becca today and look forward to serving with her in Washington.”

Closer to home, Balint has the backing of environmentalist Bill McKibben, the Professional Fire Fighters of Vermont and the Vermont Building Trades Council. Former Green Mountain Power CEO Mary Powell has also backed Balint.

Dozens of state lawmakers have endorsed Balint, including Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale (D-Chittenden), a former rival for the U.S. House seat who dropped out of the race in May.

In a statement, Balint said it was "an incredible honor" to earn Sanders' support.

“Bernie joins a coalition of teachers, farmers, firefighters, electricians, and working people across our state," Balint said. "The coalition we are building represents all of Vermont and I am so proud that we have been able to bring so many different people together."
Gray counts Madeleine Kunin, the first — and only — woman ever elected Vermont governor, and former governor Howard Dean as two of her most high-profile backers. She also earned recent endorsements from the American Federation of Government Employees and the National Association of Government Employees — Service Employees International Union.

In an earlier interview, Carolyn Dwyer, a longtime Leahy campaign manager, said the outgoing senator has not traditionally weighed in on Democratic primaries.

"His policy has been to support the Democratic nominees once the voters have decided," she said in May.

Welch, too, has not endorsed either candidate.

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