At 81, Democrat Patrick Leahy hints a bid for ninth Senate term

If the 81-year-old holds onto the seat, he will become the longest-serving Democrat in the Senate.

Updated: May 24, 2021 - 4:41pm

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Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy has served in the Senate since 1975 and has indicated he'll seek a ninth term in 2022, amid speculation the 81-year-old lawmaker would return at the end of this term. 

Leahy, one of the longest-serving Democrats in Congress, purportedly asked his Democrat colleagues recently to support him reelection. He believes he’s “the only Democrat that can win the seat,” said a person briefed on the conversations, according to Politico.

The senator is in the line of presidential succession among other high-ranking duties including the Senate Appropriations chairman and Senate pro tempore. He would likely keep these positions as long as his party holds the majority. 

“Patrick and (wife) Marcelle Leahy have a long-held policy of making re-election decisions a year out from the election, and that hasn’t changed. He is preparing for an election like every other senator in cycle and has retained his campaign manager and fundraiser,” said David Carle, a spokesperson for Leahy.

Leahy is the only Democrat ever elected to the Senate from Vermont, given that Bernie Sanders is an independent who has typically won the support of Vermont Democrats. He has had some health concerns over the past year and was briefly hospitalized, worrying his party's slight majority. 

If Leahy retains his seat, he will become the longest-serving Democrat in the Senate, passing the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) who was a senator for over 51 years.