(Host) Senator Patrick Leahy formally announced his candidacy for a sixth term in the U.S. Senate on Thursday. Leahy is asking voters to send him back to Washington so that “Vermont values” are well represented in Congress.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.
(Kinzel) Leahy made his announcement in the largest conference room at the Statehouse. It’s the same room where he launched his first U.S. Senate campaign in 1974.
Leahy’s speech was a broad indictment of the domestic and foreign policies of the Bush administration. Leahy told the crowd that he has cast more than 11,000 votes in the U.S. Senate. He says there are some he regrets, but there’s one that he never will:
(Leahy) “I was one of 23 senators that voted no on authorizing the use of force in Iraq I’ll never regret it!” (Sound of crowd applause.)
(Kinzel) Leahy criticized the president for taking a unilateral approach in Iraq and he urged Bush to seek international support in the future:
(Leahy) “And so all of us, whether we supported the war or not, we hope that the recent transfer of authority in Baghdad will succeed, that the insurgent terrorist will dwindle and then our men and women can come home.” (Sound of applause.)
(Kinzel) Leahy says his voting record is one of protecting the rights of all people, working to protect dairy farmers and making sure that essential government services are not cut to those people who desperately need them:
(Leahy) “In Vermont this means fighting the powerful special interests and their friends in the White House who repeatedly give a green light for more arsenic in the water, more mercury in our air and – left to their own devices – they would hand over the keys to the kingdom to their powerful polluting friends. But that’s not going to happen as long as I’m in the United States Senate!” (Sound of crowd applause.)
(Kinzel) Middlebury College political science professor Eric Davis says the eventual Republican candidate in this race faces a very difficult challenge:
(Davis) “Vermont has never defeated an incumbent senator seeking re-election since the popular election of U.S. senators began over 90 years ago. And it’s almost completely unlikely that Pat Leahy would be the first one who would fall victim to an exception for that rule. Generally incumbency helps people who are serving in the U.S. Senate but in Vermont I think incumbency is a very, very powerful factor and it’s almost impossible for an incumbent not to be re-elected.”
(Kinzel) Leahy will face the winner of the Republican primary between Jack McMullen and Peter Moss in November’s election.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.