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Rep. Peter Welch. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) is indicating to colleagues he's preparing to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Vermont has never sent a woman to serve in either the House or Senate. Welch would likely clear the Democratic primary field but also would face the prospect of a challenge from the left, according to the Intercept.

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has the potential to play kingmaker, foreclosing a primary if the progressive endorsed Welch.
  • The 74-year-old, eight-term congressman already is in a strong position to win the nomination and retain the seat for this party.
  • His odds are strong, locals say, even if Gov. Phil Scott — a rare successful Vermont Republican — decides to jump into the race.
  • Scott, who won re-election by 41 points, has insisted he isn't interested in running — a sentiment his spokesperson repeated Monday.

Go deeper: Molly Gray, a Democrat and the current lieutenant governor, is poised to run for Welch’s House seat, which he’s held for 13 years.

  • State Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale, another Democrat and the first woman of color in the state Senate, also is mulling a run for the House seat.

The big picture: Leahy’s announcement is setting off a scramble across a state with remarkably little political turnover and even less female representation.

  • While Vermont celebrates its left-of-center politics, and is the proud progressive home of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, it's the only state never to send a woman to Congress.

The big picture: Open seats in Vermont, one of seven states with a single House representative, are a rarity.

  • Leahy, 81, has logged 47 years in the Senate.
  • Sanders, 80, has served in Congress for 31 years.
  • Welch moved into the U.S. House of Representatives after a career in the state legislature.

Between the lines: There’s no age limit for senators, but given the current age of the delegation, it’s likely Vermont will be sending more than one woman to Congress this decade.

  • Becca Balint, the state Senate pro tempore, also is well-positioned to run for either governor or lieutenant governor.
  • "Let's give the senator the respect he deserves and not immediately jump into speculation," Balint said in a statement. "I've been clear about my intentions and interest in deepening my work for Vermont, but today I am focused on honoring Sen. Leahy."

Go deeper

Sizing up the Illinois GOP's 2022 midterm chances

U.S. Rep. Mary Miller (R-Ill.) attends a news conference outside the Capitol. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has yet to sign the new congressional map into law, but that hasn't stopped some candidates from jockeying for early positions for the midterms.

Why it matters: Illinois Republicans are energized after the GOP's gubernatorial win in Virginia, hoping the momentum swings the state from blue to red.

Updated 11 hours ago - Technology

From Malcolm X to "Free Britney," new media shapes the justice system

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

True crime documentaries, podcasts and social media campaigns are bringing new attention to real-world legal proceedings — and are often affecting the outcome.

Why it matters: New media platforms can instantly put a national spotlight on cases that have long been forgotten or buried under red tape.

Updated 13 hours ago - Health

The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.