Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Vermont’s other senator, endorsed Welch shortly after the congressman announced his campaign.
Welch was first elected as Vermont’s only House member in 2006.
In his announcement, Welch signaled support for filibuster reform, blasting how Republican senators have weaponized the filibuster to obstruct Democrats’ agenda.
Welch’s campaign launch comes a week after Leahy, the Senate’s most senior member at 81 years old, announced that he would not seek reelection in the 2022 midterms.
Leahy was briefly hospitalized in January due to muscle spasms before he was released with what the senator called a “clean bill of health.” The incident highlighted the precarious state of Democrats’ razor-thin control over the Senate; Vermont Republican Gov. Phil Scott has the power to appoint an interim senator if Leahy’s seat gets vacated.