Leahy Says He Voted for Molly Gray in U.S. House Primary | Politics | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Leahy Says He Voted for Molly Gray in U.S. House Primary


Published July 29, 2022 at 6:50 p.m.
Updated August 2, 2022 at 6:49 p.m.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) - FILE ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • File ©️ Seven Days
  • Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)
U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) hasn't given a formal endorsement in the Democratic primary for Vermont's lone U.S. House seat, but he has revealed who he voted for: Lt. Gov. Molly Gray. And he's funneled $5,000 to her campaign through his political action committee.

Leahy said in a statement that he had voted early, ahead of the August 9 primary. Gray is running hard against Vermont Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint (D-Windham). A third candidate, Dr. Louis Meyers, is also on the ballot.

"While I think highly of both of the leading candidates, I voted for Molly Gray because I believe her experience is well suited to the job," Leahy said in the written statement. "Her work in Congress, her legal training, her deep connections to Vermont communities. Molly will serve Vermont well in Congress."

Leahy is retiring at the end of his term. On Friday, he was released from a rehab center in the Washington, D.C., area following hip-replacement surgery.
Earlier in the campaign, spokespeople for Vermont's senior senator said he did not plan to endorse a candidate and historically had not. Friday's statement wasn't exactly a full-throated endorsement and contained a caveat.       
"I trust Vermonters to make their own decisions about who will represent them," Leahy wrote.

But in recent weeks, Leahy's wife, Marcelle, endorsed Gray, and the senator noted he "thinks highly" of the candidate, who once interned for him.

Leahy went even further this week with his $5,000 contribution to Gray's campaign through his Green Mountain PAC. VTDigger.org first reported about the donation.
  • File: Sasha Goldstein ©️ Seven Days
  • Lt. Gov. Molly Gray
Leahy spends money from the political action committee on Democratic causes, usually for U.S. Senate races. But he's directed money from it to local politics, too, including statewide races and the Vermont Democratic Party.

Leahy's statement also condemned the outside spending that's poured into the U.S. House primary in support of Balint. On Monday, Seven Days reported that three groups — the LGBTQ Federal Victory Fund, Equality PAC and the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC — had combined to spend $606,000 on TV advertisements, digital ads and mailers in support of Balint, who is gay. As of Friday, that number had ballooned to $958,000.
The amount of spending is about nearly as much as the $992,000 the Balint campaign has spent during the first eight months of the race.

"I have been deeply concerned about the flood of outside money in the House race," Leahy said in his statement. "These are two qualified women who are capable of running their own races without outside interference. I think Vermonters will judge if this outside spending is welcome in such an important campaign. I believe it is wrong and should have no place in our elections."

According to campaign finance filings released Thursday, Gray and Balint have both raised more than $1 million since entering the race in December. Both appear to have enough cash on hand to sustain the last week-plus of the race.
Balint hasn't lacked for endorsements from members of Congress. Several members of the House have backed her, as has Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and, most notably, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). He endorsed her earlier this month and will attend several Vermont rallies on Sunday with Balint.

"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 in endorsing the candidate. "Becca has that courage."