Vermont’s Lieutenant Governor Molly Gray, who assumed office in January, announced a run for Congress to succeed Peter Welch (D-Vt) last week. Welch, currently Vermont’s sole member in the House of Representatives, is running for the Senate in the 2022 elections, aiming to replace retiring incumbent Patrick Leahy.
Vermont is the only state to have never elected a woman to Congress. Gray hopes she can be the first.
Gray, a Democrat, was elected Lieutenant Governor last November and defeated Republican Scott Milne with more than 50% of the vote. In Vermont, the Lieutenant Governor is elected separately from the Governor, though Gray works closely with Governor Phil Scott.
“I’m running for Congress because the challenges we face won’t be solved by Vermont alone.” Gray said in a Twitter announcement. Gray wrote she would fight hard for “the things we need and the things we believe in.”
After graduating from UVM, Gray worked for Rep. Welch before serving with the Red Cross to combat human rights issues. Gray participated in field missions abroad, including in Haiti and Uganda. She attended law school, and was an assistant attorney general in the state before her 2020 election.
As Lieutenant Governor, she has advocated for expanded broadband access, affordable childcare and paid family leave. Gray is citing her experience as a dealmaker and fighter as she seeks higher office.
Her work has also focused on Vermont’s demographic challenges and economic challenges, which are topics she wants to continue to focus on in Congress.
“Our workforce is shrinking, housing is unaffordable, families are forced to choose between caring for loved ones and paying the bills and our next generation is struggling to make it work," she wrote in a campaign announcement.
Gray has made her Vermont upbringing a part of her political identity. Growing up in Newbury on a now 225-acre farm, Gray has close ties to the rural lifestyle and associated issues. Her family’s dairy and vegetable farm has had its business affected by globalization and rising prices.
Gray is likely to take these matters with her if elected.
In an interview with VTDigger, Gray outlined her positions on specific contentious issues in Congress today. Gray voiced support for Medicare for all and for the Green New Deal. Also a priority for Gray is writing Roe v. Wade into law, in light of the Supreme Court’s recently held oral arguments.
Gray pledges she would work closely with Vermont’s Senators and others to make lasting progress for the state. When asked about retiring Sen. Patrick Leahy, she expressed praise and respect for his character and conduct while in Congress. With his time in office, Gray says he has sent a strong example.
Keith Chatinover ’22.5, who has interned for Gray since June, is supportive of her next steps.
“I know that she’s spent her career fighting for climate action, reproductive justice and voting rights,” he said. “She'd make an amazing first Congresswoman to represent Vermont.”
Vermonters, Gray says, have strong convictions, and she’s running to bring her homegrown values to Washington.
Potential candidates include Vermont Sen. Kesha Ram and Vermont Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint. Gray is heading into the election with substantial funding, having raised over $50,000 in the first half of this year alone.
Jack Summersby is a local editor.