Becca Balint
Rep. Becca Balint - 118th Congress.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Vermont's at-large district
Assumed office
January 3, 2023
Preceded byPeter Welch
82nd President pro tempore of the Vermont Senate
In office
January 6, 2021 – January 3, 2023
Preceded byTim Ashe
Succeeded byPhilip Baruth
Majority Leader of the Vermont Senate
In office
January 6, 2017 – January 6, 2021
Preceded byPhilip Baruth
Succeeded byAlison H. Clarkson
Member of the Vermont Senate
from the Windham district
In office
January 7, 2015 – January 3, 2023
Serving with Jeanette White
Preceded byPeter Galbraith
Succeeded byWendy Harrison
Nader Hashim
Personal details
Born (1968-05-04) May 4, 1968 (age 54)
Heidelberg, West Germany
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseElizabeth Wohl
Children2
ResidenceBrattleboro, Vermont
EducationSmith College (BA)
Harvard University (MEd)
University of Massachusetts Amherst (MA)
WebsiteHouse website

Rebecca A. Balint (born May 4, 1968) is an American politician who is a member of the United States House of Representatives from Vermont's at-large congressional district as a member of the Democratic Party. She served as a member of the Vermont Senate from Windham County from 2015 to 2023, as majority leader from 2017 to 2021, and as president pro tempore from 2021 to 2023.

Balint was born in Heidelberg, West Germany, and raised in Peekskill, New York. She was educated at Walter Panas High School, Smith College, Harvard University, and University of Massachusetts Amherst. She moved to Vermont in 1994, and worked as a teacher, rock-climbing instructor in Brattleboro, and columnist for the Brattleboro Reformer, and was active in local politics. Balint was elected to the state senate in 2014, becoming the first lesbian to serve in the state senate. She was selected to serve as majority leader and later elected president pro tempore, the first woman and openly LGBT person to do so in Vermont.

Balint was elected to the U.S. House in the 2022 election. She is the first woman and openly LGBT person to represent Vermont in Congress. This was also a national milestone, as Vermont was the only state that had not previously elected a woman to Congress.[1]

Early life and education

Rebecca A. Balint was born at the United States Army hospital in Heidelberg, West Germany[2] on May 4, 1968,[3] the daughter of Peter and Sandra (Couchman) Balint,[4][5] and was raised in Peekskill, New York.[3] Her grandfather was killed during the Holocaust and her Hungarian-Jewish father immigrated to the United States in 1957.[2] She graduated from Walter Panas High School in 1986.[3] In the sixth grade, she admitted to having a crush on a female classmate, for which other students taunted her, including writing "lezzie" on her locker; she came out to her friends after high school[3] and to her parents while she was in college.[6] Balint became interested in politics at an early age, which she later attributed to having been raised in a family affected by the Holocaust and observing how government actions affect women and minorities, including gays and lesbians.[3]

Balint attended Barnard College before transferring to Smith College.[7] In 1990, she graduated magna cum laude from Smith with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and women's studies, received a Master of Education degree from Harvard University in 1995, and completed a Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2000.[7] At Smith College, Balint was coxswain for the women's crew team, who nicknamed her "the Admiral" because of her leadership skills.[3]

Balint moved to Vermont in 1994,[2] and she taught middle school history and social studies and worked as a rock-climbing instructor at Vermont Farm and Wilderness summer camp in Plymouth, in addition to teaching at the Community College of Vermont in Brattleboro and authoring a column for the Brattleboro Reformer.[3][8][9][10] She met Elizabeth Wohl in 2000; they formed a civil union in 2004, moved to Brattleboro in 2007, and got married in 2009, after same-sex marriage was legalized in Vermont. The couple have two children.[8][9][11][12]

Balint supported the Vermont Progressive Party in the 2000s, and supported their gubernatorial nominee, Anthony Pollina, in the 2000 election.[12][13] She served as a town meeting representative and on the Development Review Board in Brattleboro.[14]

Vermont Senate

Elections

In 2014, Balint announced her campaign for a Vermont Senate seat from the two-member Windham district.[12] She raised the most money in the race, around $13,000, with donations from people such as Jane Lynch, and was endorsed by Majority Leader Philip Baruth.[15][16] Brandon Batham, the chair of the Democratic Party in Windham County, served as her campaign manager; he later served as a member of the city council in Barre and operations manager for the Vermont Democratic Party before being accused of embezzling party funds.[17][18][19]

With one incumbent, Democrat Peter Galbraith, not running for reelection, Balint and the other incumbent, Jeanette White, won the Democratic nominations and Balint won a seat by placing second in the 2014 general election, ahead of an independent and two Liberty Union candidates.[20][21] Her election made her the first lesbian to serve in the state senate.[22] She was reelected in 2016, 2018, and 2020 against independent, Liberty Union, and Republican candidates.[23][24][25][26][27][28]

Tenure

In 2017, the state senate voted 20 to 10, with Balint in favor, to suspend Senator Norman H. McAllister following accusations of sexual assault, his arrest in May 2015, in the Vermont State House, and a criminal trial against him.[29] Balint served as the chair of the Senate Sexual Harassment Panel.[30] During her tenure in the state senate she served on the Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs, Finance, and Rules committees.[8] The Democratic caucus unanimously voted to make Balint majority leader in 2017.[22] In 2020, the Democratic caucus selected her to succeed Tim Ashe as president pro tempore of the Vermont Senate, and she became the first woman and LGBT person to serve in the role.[31][32]

During the 2016 election she was a member of the Victory Leaders Councils formed by the Democratic National Committee.[33] During the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries she and other members of the Vermont General Assembly declined to endorse any candidate for president.[34]

U.S. House of Representatives

Elections

See also: 2022 United States House of Representatives election in Vermont

Balint's congressional campaign logo
Balint's congressional campaign logo

On November 15, 2021, Senator Patrick Leahy announced that he would not seek reelection to the United States Senate in 2022.[35] Peter Welch, a member of the United States House of Representatives from Vermont's at-large congressional district, announced that he would run to replace Leahy.[36]

On December 13, Balint announced that she would seek the Democratic nomination to succeed Welch in the 2022 election.[11] Natalie Silver was selected as her campaign manager.[11] She raised over $125,000 within 24 hours of her announcement.[37] Balint said she would follow Bernie Sanders's example by not accepting campaign contributions from corporate political action committees, but accepting political action committee donations from labor unions.[38] Balint won the Democratic nomination and defeated Republican nominee [Liam Madden]] in the general election.[39][40]

The Campaign Legal Center stated that her campaign website was using red-boxing, a practice that allows a campaign to coordinate with super PACs.[41] During the primary, the LGBTQ Victory Fund spent around $1 million on Balint's behalf, with most of it coming from a $1.1 million donation from FTX executive Nishad Singh.[42][43] Sam Bankman-Fried donated $26,100 to Balint.[44]

Committees

Caucus memberships

Political positions

Balint sponsored legislation to limit police involvement with immigration enforcement by the federal government, opposing President Donald Trump's support for a federal registry on religious and immigration status.[48][49] She voted to expand background checks on gun sales in 2018.[50] The Vermont Conservation Voters gave her a lifetime score of 100%.[51]

Balint opposes voter identification on the grounds that voter fraud is extremely rare and that voter ID laws are used to restrict people from voting.[52] She supported legislation that sent all voters mail-in ballots and said that it was a part of Vermont's legacy of making voting easier.[53] She sponsored legislation to implement ranked choice voting for presidential and congressional elections in Vermont.[54][55]

Balint supported legislation to prohibit conversion therapy on minors.[56] She supported legislation banning the gay panic defense, which passed unanimously in the state senate, but was unable to vote for it because she was presiding in place of Lieutenant Governor Molly Gray.[57] She and Speaker Jill Krowinski gave an apology for Vermont's involvement in eugenics, including legislation from 1931 that supported a eugenics study conducted by Henry Farnham Perkins.[58][59] In 2021, an amendment to the Constitution of Vermont to codify Roe v. Wade passed in the state senate, 26 to 4, with Balint in favor.[60]

In 2016, Balint opposed legislation to legalize marijuana despite her support for legalization, saying that she "believed this bill does not leave room for the home-grown and the small growers who would like to be a part of this new economy."[61] She initially voted against marijuana legalization in a 16 to 13 vote in 2017, but became the only member in the state senate to change her vote after an amendment by Senator John S. Rodgers reduced the cultivation application fee that ranged from $15,000 to $25,000 to $3,000 to $7,500.[62][63]

Electoral history

2014 Vermont Senate Windham district Democratic primary[20]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Jeanette White (incumbent) 2,260 40.06%
Democratic Becca Balint 1,684 29.85%
Democratic Roger Allbee 1,240 21.98%
Democratic Joan Bowman 446 7.91%
Democratic Write-ins 11 0.20%
Total votes 5,641 100.00%
Blank and spoiled 990
2014 Vermont Senate Windham district election[21]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Jeanette White (incumbent) 7,777 43.44%
Democratic Becca Balint 6,378 35.63%
Independent Mary Hasson 1,973 11.02%
Liberty Union Jerry Levy 899 5.02%
Liberty Union Aaron Diamondstone 833 4.65%
Independent Write-ins 41 0.23%
Total votes 17,901 100.00%
Blank and spoiled 1,606
2016 Vermont Senate Windham district Democratic primary[23]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Jeanette White (incumbent) 4,348 50.43%
Democratic Becca Balint (incumbent) 4,215 48.89%
Democratic Write-ins 59 0.68%
Total votes 8,622 100.00%
Blank and spoiled 3,292
2016 Vermont Senate Windham district election[24]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Jeanette White (incumbent) 11,451 36.61%
Democratic Becca Balint (incumbent) 11,174 35.72%
Independent David Schoales 5,610 17.94%
Liberty Union Jerry Levy 1,529 4.89%
Liberty Union Aaron Diamondstone 1,437 4.59%
Independent Write-ins 78 0.25%
Total votes 31,279 100.00%
Blank and spoiled 10,589
2018 Vermont Senate Windham district Democratic primary[25]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Jeanette White (incumbent) 4,697 46.47%
Democratic Becca Balint (incumbent) 4,308 42.62%
Democratic Wayne Vernon Estey 1,076 10.65%
Democratic Write-ins 26 0.26%
Total votes 10,107 100.00%
Blank and spoiled 2,313
2018 Vermont Senate Windham district election[26]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Becca Balint (incumbent) 11,464 39.39%
Democratic Jeanette White (incumbent) 10,644 36.58%
Republican Tyler Colford 3,861 13.27%
Independent Beverly Stone 1,675 5.76%
Liberty Union Aaron Diamondstone 763 2.62%
Liberty Union Jerry Levy 659 2.26%
Independent Write-ins 35 0.12%
Total votes 29,101 100.00%
Blank and spoiled 6,287
2020 Vermont Senate Windham district Democratic primary[27]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Becca Balint (incumbent) 7,001 51.50%
Democratic Jeanette White (incumbent) 6,519 47.95%
Democratic Write-ins 74 0.54%
Total votes 13,594 100.00%
Blank and spoiled 3,446
2020 Vermont Senate Windham district election[28]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Becca Balint (incumbent) 14,520 37.80%
Democratic Jeanette White (incumbent) 13,683 35.62%
Republican Marcus R. Parish 4,359 11.35%
Republican John Lyddy 4,265 11.10%
Independent Tyler Colford 1,499 3.90%
Independent Write-ins 87 0.23%
Total votes 38,413 100.00%
Blank and spoiled 9,551
2022 Vermont's at-large congressional district Democratic primary[64]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Becca Balint 61,025 60.6%
Democratic Molly Gray 37,266 37.0%
Democratic Louis Meyers 1,593 1.6%
Democratic Sianay Chase Clifford (withdrawn) 885 0.9%
Total votes 100,769 100.0%
2022 Vermont's at-large congressional district election[40]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Becca Balint 176,494 60.45% –6.86%
Republican Liam Madden 78,297 26.85% –0.16%
Libertarian Ericka Redic 12,590 4.31% N/A
Independent Matt Druzba 5,737 1.97% N/A
Independent Luke Talbot 4,428 1.52% N/A
Independent Adam Ortiz 3,376 1.16% N/A
Write-in 1,004 0.34% +0.19%
Total votes 291,955 100.00%

See also

References

  1. ^ Shivaram, Deepa (November 8, 2022). "Vermont ends streak as the last state to send a woman to Congress". NPR. Retrieved November 11, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c Kampeas, Ron (September 19, 2022). "In Vermont, Becca Balint's Congress run is inspired by her Holocaust survivor father". The Times of Israel. Jerusalem, Israel.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Norton, Kit (January 5, 2021). "Balint feels the pressure as a historic Senate chief, but looks to focus on coronavirus". Vermont Digger. Archived from the original on December 15, 2021.
  4. ^ Freese, Alicia (February 21, 2018). "Woman on the Rise: Becca Balint's Ascent From Stay-at-Home Mom to Senate Majority Leader". Vermont Seven Days. Burlington, VT.
  5. ^ "Bishop Maginn High School Annual Report of Gifts". Bishop Maginn High School Alumni/Parent Newsletter. Albany, NY: Bishop Maginn High School. Summer–Fall 2012. p. 12 – via Yumpu.com.
  6. ^ Marcel, Joyce (December 8, 2022). "Meet our very first congresswoman, Rebecca A Balint". Vermont Business Magazine. South Burlington.
  7. ^ a b "Biography, Becca Balint". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Washington, DC: Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. 2023.
  8. ^ a b c "Senator Becca Balint". Vermont General Assembly. Archived from the original on December 14, 2021.
  9. ^ a b "Vermont Sen. Becca Balint Announces Run for U.S. House". Seven Days. December 13, 2021. Archived from the original on December 14, 2021.
  10. ^ "CCV announces new faculty members". Brattleboro Reformer. March 29, 2004. p. 5. Archived from the original on December 14, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  11. ^ a b c Duffort, Lola (December 13, 2021). "Becca Balint, leader of the Vermont Senate, joins race for US House". Vermont Digger. Archived from the original on December 14, 2021.
  12. ^ a b c "Woman on the Rise: Becca Balint's Ascent From Stay-at-Home Mom to Senate Majority Leader". Seven Days. February 21, 2018. Archived from the original on December 14, 2021.
  13. ^ "Progressives hold key to state's future". Brattleboro Reformer. September 15, 2000. p. 4. Archived from the original on December 14, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  14. ^ "Five seek Windham County Senate seats". Vermont Digger. October 31, 2014. Archived from the original on December 15, 2021.
  15. ^ "White, Balint win Senate primary". Rutland Herald. August 28, 2014. p. A7. Archived from the original on December 14, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  16. ^ "Two upsets and close contests mark legislative primaries". The Burlington Free Press. August 27, 2014. p. A4. Archived from the original on December 14, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  17. ^ "Ram". Rutland Herald. October 13, 2015. p. B2. Archived from the original on December 14, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  18. ^ Hewitt, Elizabeth (August 18, 2019). "Vermont Dems allege former staffer embezzled $18,500 from party". VT Digger. Montpelier, VT.
  19. ^ Delcore, David (October 24, 2018). "Poirier roasts councilor for online post". Barre Montpelier Times Argus. Barre, VT.
  20. ^ a b "2014 State Senator Democratic Primary". Secretary of State of Vermont. Archived from the original on December 15, 2021.
  21. ^ a b "2014 State Senator General Election". Secretary of State of Vermont. Archived from the original on December 15, 2021.
  22. ^ a b "Walters: Senate Democrats Elect Becca Balint as Majority Leader". Seven Days. January 4, 2017. Archived from the original on December 14, 2021.
  23. ^ a b "2016 State Senator Democratic Primary". Secretary of State of Vermont. Archived from the original on December 15, 2021.
  24. ^ a b "2016 State Senator General Election". Secretary of State of Vermont. Archived from the original on December 15, 2021.
  25. ^ a b "2018 State Senator Democratic Primary". Secretary of State of Vermont. Archived from the original on December 15, 2021.
  26. ^ a b "2018 State Senator General Election". Secretary of State of Vermont. Archived from the original on December 15, 2021.
  27. ^ a b "2020 State Senator Democratic Primary". Secretary of State of Vermont. Archived from the original on December 15, 2021.
  28. ^ a b "2020 State Senator General Election". Secretary of State of Vermont. Archived from the original on December 15, 2021.
  29. ^ "VT senator loses seat over sex charges". The Burlington Free Press. January 7, 2016. p. A2. Archived from the original on December 14, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  30. ^ "Vt. legislators eye harassment rules". Rutland Herald. December 8, 2017. p. A1. Archived from the original on December 14, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  31. ^ "Senate Democrats nominate Balint as first woman and openly gay pro tem". Vermont Digger. November 22, 2020. Archived from the original on December 14, 2021.
  32. ^ "Most top jobs in Legislature go to women". Rutland Herald. November 25, 2020. p. A2. Archived from the original on December 14, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  33. ^ "State leaders join Democratic National Committee council". Vermont Digger. September 30, 2016. Archived from the original on December 15, 2021.
  34. ^ "Buttigieg, Bloomberg, Warren eye Vermont's Super Tuesday delegates". Vermont Digger. February 28, 2020. Archived from the original on December 15, 2021.
  35. ^ "Leahy Won't Seek Reelection Next Year". Seven Days. November 15, 2021. Archived from the original on December 14, 2021.
  36. ^ "Welch Announces He'll Run for Leahy's Senate Seat". Seven Days. November 22, 2021. Archived from the original on December 14, 2021.
  37. ^ "Balint Banks $125,000 on First Day of Congressional Campaign". Seven Days. December 14, 2021. Archived from the original on December 14, 2021.
  38. ^ "Balint, jumping into race for Congress, pledges to 'show up' and bridge partisan divide". Brattleboro Reformer. December 13, 2021. Archived from the original on August 9, 2022.
  39. ^ "Election Results". sos.vermont.gov. Retrieved January 8, 2023.
  40. ^ a b "Election Results". Vermont Secretary of State.
  41. ^ "Becca Balint has denounced super PACs. Is her campaign winking at them anyway?". Vermont Digger. June 13, 2022. Archived from the original on September 14, 2022.
  42. ^ "A crypto mogul's hidden hand in Vermont's congressional race stunned observers. It's a common trick". Vermont Digger. August 25, 2022. Archived from the original on December 23, 2022.
  43. ^ "Billionaire supporters of Balint's primary bid find themselves at center of cryptocurrency industry collapse". Vermont Digger. November 14, 2022. Archived from the original on December 23, 2022.
  44. ^ "Sam Bankman-Fried and allies gave tens of thousands more to Becca Balint, Vermont Democratic Party than previously reported". Vermont Digger. December 19, 2022. Archived from the original on December 23, 2022.
  45. ^ Mearhoff, Sarah (February 7, 2023). "Becca Balint, in 2nd assignment, lands on House Budget Committee". VT Digger. Montpelier, VT.
  46. ^ "Congresswoman Becca Balint announces committee assignment". WAMC. January 27, 2023. Retrieved January 30, 2023.
  47. ^ "Progressive Caucus". Progressive Caucus. Retrieved December 23, 2022.
  48. ^ "Vermont pushes bill to block Trump immigration orders". The Burlington Free Press. February 10, 2017. p. A5. Archived from the original on December 14, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  49. ^ "Trump". The Burlington Free Press. February 10, 2017. p. A6. Archived from the original on December 14, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  50. ^ "Vote". The Burlington Free Press. March 2, 2018. p. A4. Archived from the original on December 14, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  51. ^ "Becca Balint Legislative Scorecard". Vermont Conservation Voters. Archived from the original on December 20, 2021.
  52. ^ "Two upsets and close contests mark legislative primaries". Rutland Herald. April 2, 2015. p. A7. Archived from the original on December 14, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  53. ^ "Vt. Senate OKs mail-in voting". The Post-Star. March 22, 2021. p. A4. Archived from the original on December 14, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  54. ^ "Vermont Ranked Choice Voting Bill Has 8 Sponsors". Ballot Access News. February 1, 2022. Archived from the original on February 6, 2022.
  55. ^ "Vermont legislators to consider ranked choice voting for federal elections come 2024". Vermont Digger. January 31, 2022. Archived from the original on February 3, 2022.
  56. ^ "Ban". The Burlington Free Press. March 17, 2016. p. C6. Archived from the original on December 14, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  57. ^ "Senate unanimously approves ban on LGBTQ 'panic' defense". Vermont Digger. April 21, 2021. Archived from the original on December 15, 2021.
  58. ^ "Public apology for eugenics". Rutland Herald. October 23, 2021. p. C5. Archived from the original on December 14, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  59. ^ "Vermont's legislative leaders apologize for state-sanctioned eugenics movement". Vermont Digger. October 18, 2021. Archived from the original on December 15, 2021.
  60. ^ "Senate approves state constitutional amendments on slavery, abortion rights". Vermont Digger. April 9, 2021. Archived from the original on December 15, 2021.
  61. ^ "Senate". Rutland Herald. February 25, 2016. p. A3. Archived from the original on December 14, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  62. ^ "Marijuana legalization moves to Vermont House". The Burlington Free Press. February 26, 2017. p. A2. Archived from the original on December 14, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  63. ^ "Senate approves marijuana legalization". Rutland Herald. February 26, 2017. p. A7. Archived from the original on December 14, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  64. ^ "Vermont At-Large Congressional District Primary Election Results". The New York Times. August 9, 2022.