Sen. Patrick Leahy has reportedly asked his colleagues to support his potential campaign for a ninth term, according to new reports.
The Vermont Democrat has served since 1975 and believes he is “the only Democrat that can win the seat,” people familiar with the conversations told Politico.
If he runs and is reelected, he could take the record for longest-serving Senator in history, stealing the title from the late Robert Byrd, according to the Senate.
The 81-year-old is the only Democrat ever elected to the Senate from Vermont, not including independent Sen. Bernie Sanders who caucuses with the Democrats.
Leahy said in a recent interview that he had not yet decided if he would run again, but he raised over $300,000 in the first quarter of the year for his re-election.
Leahy said he and his wife, Marcelle, usually decide by December before an election year if he should run again.
“We go snowshoeing and just talk about it. Because the mistake I’ve seen since I’ve been here are people who, almost the day they come in here are, ‘oh god I’ve got to think about reelection.’ So then they’re afraid to vote for this or that,” Leahy said.
State polls also show Leahy winning “easily,” according to the senator.
Leahy serves as the Senate Appropriations chair and he could continue to serve until 2029 if he seeks re-election because Democrats don’t have term limits.
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He would also continue to serve as Senate pro tempore as long as Democrats retain the majority in the Senate.
Senators said in interviews this week that they would be surprised if Leahy decides to retire.
The Vermont senator had opposed a Democratic caucus rules change last year that would prevent high-ranking senators from choosing a subcommittee until every other member picked one, which was interpreted as a sign that he wanted to stay in his seat longer than his current term.
“I always assumed he would run simply because: What else would he do that he’d like better than this?” a Republican senator who works regularly with Leahy said.
“I would bet he’s running again. He’s always announced late, and why not if you can get away with it.”
Leahy was briefly hospitalized in January after suffering muscle spasms, revealing just how fragile the Democratrs’ majority in the Senate is.
There are four current senators who are older than Leahy: Sens. Dianne Feinstein, Chuck Grassley, Richard Shelby and Jim Inhofe.
Feinstein was re-elected in 2018, Inhofe was re-elected last year, Shelby is retiring and Grassley is also considering another run in 2022.