May 29, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Which one state has never sent a woman to Congress?

Mike Allen
Molly Gray, Becca Balint and Sianay Chase Clifford
From left: Sianay Chase Clifford, Molly Gray and Becca Balint. Photos: AP

I wouldn't have guessed Vermont, either.

Driving the news: With a rare opening in its congressional delegation, the Green Mountain State is poised to lose its distinction as the only state that has never been represented by a woman in Washington, AP's Wilson Ring reports from Montpelier.

The big picture: Three women — Lt. Gov. Molly Gray, Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint and Sianay Chase Clifford, a social worker and former Capitol Hill aide — are among the Democrats competing in a Aug. 9 primary. It's for a seat being vacated by the state's lone U.S. House member, Democrat Peter Welch, who's trying to move to the Senate.

  • The two Republican candidates registered to run in the midterm elections are also women.

Between the lines: Given Vermont's liberal reputation, it might seem strange that it would be the last state to send a woman to Congress.

  • But Vermont's tiny population makes it one of a handful of states with the smallest possible congressional delegation — two senators and one House member. And like many states, Vermont has traditionally re-elected its incumbents, who have happened to be white men who have ended up serving for extraordinarily long stretches.
  • That includes Democrat Patrick Leahy, who was first elected in 1974 and is the fourth-longest-serving senator in history.

Trivia answer: In 2018, Vermont became the last state without female representation in Congress when Mississippi Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith was appointed to the Senate.

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