Democrat Patrick Leahy, Senate's most senior member, announces retirement

The eight term Vermont Democrat will not seek a ninth term

Updated: November 15, 2021 - 2:11pm

Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont announced Monday morning that he will not seek reelection next year, following nearly 50 years in the chamber. 

"It is time to put down the gavel," he said during his speech delivered at the state capitol in Montpelier. "It is time to pass the torch to the next Vermonter, who will carry on this work for our great state. It is time to come home."

The 81-year-old, who serves as president pro tempore of the Senate and is the longest-serving member of the upper chamber, announced that he will not seek a ninth term. First elected in 1974, Leahy has remained in the Senate for eight presidencies.

Leahy's announcement sets up the first open Senate election in Vermont since 2006, when congressman Bernie Sanders became Senator Bernie Sanders. Because Sanders is technically an Independent, Leahy is the only Democrat to ever have been elected to the Senate from Vermont.