By LISA RATHKE and WILSON RING
Vermont’s sole congressman, Democratic Rep. Peter Welch, says he’ll run for Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy’s Senate seat next year. Welch made the announcement Monday, a week after the 81-year-old Leahy said he won’t seek reelection. The 74-year-old Welch is one of the most liberal members of Congress. Welch has served in the House since 2006 and is one of the state’s most popular politicians. Welch says this is “a critical moment in our democracy and in our country.” Vermont’s independent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders has endorsed Welch, lauding his “knowledge and experience.” Republicans say many Vermont residents want a fresh face in Washington.