Major shift in race for US House as Ram Hinsdale drops out, endorses Balint
In a surprise announcement that could have lasting ramifications on one of the most closely watched political races in Vermont this year, Chittenden County Sen. Kesha Ram dropped out of the race for U.S. House on Friday and endorsed her opponent, Becca Balint.
Balint, Ram Hinsdale and Lt. Gov. Molly Gray were widely viewed as the top three candidates in what had, until Friday, been a five-way race for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. House.
Ram Hinsdale said her decision to depart the race stems in part from a desire to unite the Democratic left around a single candidate.
“I don’t think anyone needs a political science degree to know that we were looking at a race where folks on the left were having an extremely tough time choosing between me and Becca, and wanted to make sure that the left didn’t tear itself apart in pursuit of this seat,” Ram Hinsdale told VPR Friday.
Ram Hinsdale said her endorsement could be a pivotal moment for the Balint campaign.
“I do think in a race that was a toss up until now, a prominent candidate getting out and endorsing another candidate probably holds sway,” Ram Hinsdale said. “What I think floored all of us … is just how close of a race this was. Anyone could pull ahead, anyone could find an advantage. But my path to victory would probably still involve continuing to split hairs with Sen. Balint, who’s someone I deeply respect and admire and have enjoyed collaborating with.”
Gray said Friday that the “momentum” of her campaign is growing by the day.
“Having run and won statewide before … we have support in every corner of the state,” Gray said.
Gray said her campaign will continue to try to reach voters “across the political spectrum” with a message of “civility and kindness and with a deep focus on the issues.”
“What I know about Vermonters, having grown up in Vermont and worked across the state … is that Vermonters vote for the person,” Gray said. “And they want to see leaders right now who are going to lead with civility.”
Sianay Chase Clifford and Louis Meyers are also seeking the Democratic nomination for Vermont’s only seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Ram Hinsdale said Balint is the only candidate left in the race with the legislative experience needed to advocate effectively for Vermont in Congress.
Balint has spent four terms in the Vermont Senate and currently serves as the chamber’s president pro tem.
“Language about being battle-tested has been thrown around in this race, and Becca is truly battle-tested. She’s battle-tested in policy, in the political arena, in terms of building power to get legislation moving that meets the needs of all Vermonters,” Ram Hinsdale said. “We I think share that value of ensuring that no one is left behind and in fact those at the margins are centered. And it takes experience and skill to make sure that is meaningful and not performative.”
Gray said that as a former staffer in Congressman Peter Welch’s office, she has meaningful legislative experience as well.
“Legislative experience is important and there’s no other candidate in this race that spent nearly half a decade working in and with Congress, with congressional committees and staff,” Gray said. “I know what it’s like to work in Congress, both on legislation but also on meeting constituent services, so I know I have the experience to be ready right now when elected to get to work for Vermont. We have no time to waste.”
Ram Hinsdale said she'll now seek reelection to the Vermont Senate.
"The only feeling better than winning is doing the right thing," she said. "And I just knew in my bones that this was the right thing and that I could continue to do wonderful work for Vermonters in the state senate.”
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