Peter Welch enters Democratic race for Sen. Patrick Leahy’s seat

Peter Welch announced his candidacy Saturday for the seat that U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy will vacate when he retires this year, potentially setting up a Democratic primary in which several potential candidates are lining up.

Welch, who was first elected to the U.S. House in 2006 and served two terms there before his election to the Senate in 2012, wants to continue working for President Barack Obama’s agenda in Congress.

“One big thing that I’ve been doing these last seven and a half years is being a holdout and voting against the majority party,” Welch said Saturday on The Big Issue with Melissa Harris-Perry, a progressive talk show. “It’s working and it works. When you don’t have that kind of vote on the other side, it works. That’s how you stop a bad bill.”

In a statement after his announcement, Welch said he’s “ready to take our progressive values to the whole country.”

“When I tell people I’m running for US Senate, they often ask, ‘What has he done? What has he accomplished?’” Welch said. “The reality is that over the last seven and a half years, too many people in Washington have been focused on fear instead of providing hope. I’m running to bring it back.”

While Welch could wind up facing another incumbent in his Senate race — in this case Leahy, who has announced he won’t seek reelection next year — several other potential candidates are also staking out their claim.

U.S. Rep. Peter Welch’s challenge to U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy marks the third consecutive year that the Congressman from the Burlington area has run for U.S. Senate

Along with Welch, the currently announced Democratic candidates running for the seat include U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, and Peter Galbraith, a former two-term Congressman from New Hampshire. They will likely be challenged from the left flank by former U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, and while influential names — including President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden — have said they support her, however, no announcement has been made about who will officially support her bid for the seat, a CNN analysis showed.

The Vermont primary will be held on August 26, and the Democratic National Committee has selected the party’s presidential candidate selection process will unfold at their July convention.

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