- File: Sasha Goldstein ©️ Seven Days
- State Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale at her U.S. House campaign kickoff
Updated 1:41 p.m.
State Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale (D-Chittenden), a top contender for Vermont’s lone U.S. House seat, has dropped out of the Democratic primary and endorsed her colleague and former rival, Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint (D-Windham).
“It was not an easy decision, but I have decided to run for re-election to the Vermont State Senate and endorse Becca Balint, a candidate whose values align with my own and who will be a fighter for Vermont in Washington,” Ram Hinsdale said in a statement Friday morning.
“We built a coalition that was bigger than me, and so many Vermonters and national leaders stepped up to support my Congressional campaign and the principles I stand and fight for," the statement continues. "I am so grateful to all of them and to Vermont for holding me through this decision.”
- File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
- Sen. Becca Balint
Ram Hinsdale had won the backing of the Vermont chapter of the AFL-CIO and environmental advocates, including writer and 350.org founder Bill McKibben and the Middlebury College chapter of the Sunrise Movement, a youth-led climate activism group. By exiting the race, Ram Hinsdale told Seven Days, she hopes that voters will have a clearer choice on primary day, August 9.
"I was having conversations around the state where people told me they were having a hard time deciding between me and Senator Balint," she said. "And it's continued to feel like splitting hairs in terms of our length of service and lived experiences and values and positions that we would bring to Washington." If she had remained in the race, Ram Hinsdale said, she risked splitting the support of the Democratic party's progressive-leaning electorate with Balint — which could give Lt. Gov Molly Gray, widely seen as the centrist establishment pick, an edge in the contest.
"I worried that might cause me to be a candidate I don't want to be, or you know, lose a friendship and relationship that matters to me just as much as this race," Ram Hinsdale said.
Thursday was the deadline for candidates to file for the August 9 primary. The final Democratic field for the U.S. House race includes Balint, Gray, and Sianay Chase Clifford, an Essex resident who most recently worked for U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.).
In a statement, Gray acknowledged Ram Hinsdale's departure: "Senator Ram Hinsdale will be missed in this historic race – but I know her work for Vermont, and our work together, are far from over,” Gray wrote.
Balint’s campaign manager, Natalie Silver, said Ram Hinsdale’s endorsement comes at a pivotal moment.
“I can’t overstate the immense momentum and boost that this is going to give the Becca Balint campaign,” Silver told Seven Days. “We certainly had a path with Kesha in the race, but math is math, and having more candidates in the race is harder. Considering how aligned Becca and Kesha have been during this race, but also been in their careers in fighting for labor and working people, it is very clear that with this endorsement, we are building a broad coalition.”