Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: 2006, 4th term.

Born: May 2, 1947, Springfield, MA

Home: Norwich, VT

Education: Col. of the Holy Cross, A.B. 1969, U. of CA, J.D. 1973

Professional Career: Robert F. Kennedy fellow, 1969-70; Practicing atty., 1974-2006.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Roman Catholic

Family: Married (State Rep. Margaret Cheney) , 5 children ; 3 stepchildren

Vermont’s only House member is Peter Welch, a Democrat first elected in 2006. He is highly regarded within his party as both a strategist and spokesman, serving as a chief deputy whip and active on energy and health care issues.

Welch grew up in Springfield, Mass., the son of a dentist, and graduated from College of the Holy Cross. The summer before his junior year, he worked for a Jesuit group that did community outreach in poor black neighborhoods in Chicago. While there, he was inspired by a speech by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., a leader of the growing civil rights movement in the 1960s. After graduating from law school at the University of California, Berkeley, Welch backpacked down the Pan-American Highway to Santiago, Chile, went overland to Brazil, then worked on a freighter that sailed to Portugal. After that, he was ready to settle down to practice law, and chose White River Junction, Vt. as his home. He married a professor at Dartmouth, just across the river, and became a stepfather to Joan Smith’s five children.

In 1980, Welch was elected as only the second Democrat to represent Windsor County in the state Senate, and the first since the Civil War. In 1982, he became Senate minority leader. In 1984, after Democrats won a majority in the Senate for the first time ever, he was elected Senate president pro tem. He focused on environment, education, and tax issues and helped establish the Housing and Land Conservation Trust, which worked to create affordable housing and to conserve farmland and forests. In 1988, when Republican Rep. James Jeffords ran for the Senate, Welch aimed for the U.S. House but lost the Democratic primary by 266 votes.In 1990, Welch ran for governor, but lost 52%-46% to Republican Richard Snelling. For some years after that, Welch was out of political life. His wife, Joan, who had been his closest adviser and campaign manager, fought cancer for nine years, and Welch at times was her full-time caregiver. She died in 2004.

In 2001, Democratic Gov. Howard Dean appointed Welch to the state Senate to fill a vacancy in Windsor County. In 2003, he became president pro tem once again and focused on health care issues. He also helped negotiate a deal for the storage of spent nuclear fuel on the site of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. In the spring of 2005, Sen. Jeffords announced he would not seek reelection in 2006. SocialistRep. Bernie Sanders, after 15 years in the House, announced he would run for the Senate seat and attracted little opposition. So Welch decided to run again for the U.S. House.

He was supported by many Democratic leaders and, although other potential candidates canvassed for support, no one else ended up running, and Welch won the September 2006 primary unopposed. The winner of the Republican primary, by 71%-28%, was Martha Rainville, the commander of the Vermont National Guard. Welch campaigned as an opponent of military action in Iraq from the start, and he condemned the “corrupt” Republicans in Washington. He supported a universal health care program and called for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Rainville said she would have voted for military action in Iraq in 2002 given what was known then, but she also criticized some of the Bush administration’s decisions since.Both candidates favored access to abortion.

Both also pledged not to run negative campaigns, and this was probably the only seriously contested 2006 House race in the country without a single negative ad. But there was dispute. Welch called Rainville the “hand-picked” candidate of the by then unpopular national Republicans. Rainville countered that Vermont Republicans are “something very different,” and insisted that “the party has a lot of room for diversity.” Welch spent $1.7 million to Rainville’s $1.1 million. But the House Republican campaign committee outspent its Democratic counterpart, $750,000 to $300,000. This was one of the few Democratic seats that Republicans thought they had a good chance of picking up. (Though technically not a Democrat, Sanders had caucused with the Democrats.) The contest was close in the polls throughout the summer, but by late September, Welch opened up a lead. Rainville was embarrassed when she was forced to fire a speechwriter in early October for plagiarizing from Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York. Welch won, 53%-45%.

In the House, Welch has become known for legislative skill, though he retains an understated and collegial style. In his first term, he was one of four freshman Democrats to get a seat on the Rules Committee, an influential, leadership-run panel that establishes the procedures for bills coming to the floor. After the GOP takeover of the House in 2011, he became a chief deputy for Minority Whip Steny Hoyer. He helped liberals articulate their opposition to both the tax cut extension deal between President Barack Obama and House Republicans in December 2010 as well as the GOP’s vote to repeal health care reform the following month.

But Welch is not a strict partisan. He worked with Republicans on a measure in early 2013 to allow states to ensure online merchants collect sales taxes in return for simplified tax procedures, and a 2011 bill he introduced to prevent the Afghan government from taxing American companies delivering U.S. aid to that country drew support from several conservatives. After The New York Times reported on Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus’ efforts to benefit the California-based biotechnology company Amgen as part of the January 2013 tax and spending compromise, Welch introduced legislation to repeal the special-interest provision, which he said “confirms the American public’s worst suspicions of how Congress operates.” He has joined the bipartisan cooperative effort No Labels and decried parliamentary ploys such as the “motion to recommit,” a procedure used by both parties to kill legislation on the House floor.

Welch took a prominent position on the debate over extending the debt limit, circulating a letter in April 2011 calling on Democratic leaders to hold a special caucus meeting to discuss the issue and stick to a “clean” extension unencumbered by extraneous provisions. And he was among opponents who turned up often on television to blast Republican Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s ambitious and controversial blueprint for a balanced budget. “There’s an ideology that’s at work with the Republican plan. And that is that revenues are always bad and a tax cut is always good, and it’s better to cut rather than to invest,” he told MSNBC in April 2011. Two years later, he called a similar Ryan budget proposal “just a wasted opportunity.”

Welch got a provision into House-passed energy and climate change legislation in 2009 to invest billions of dollars in energy efficiency efforts. A year later, he won committee passage of a measure to provide tax rebates to consumers for installing upgraded insulation, storm windows, and other energy efficiency measures. He sought to practice what he preached, making his office the first in the House to install new lights and water fixtures to reduce energy use.

At home, Welch has faced no serious reelection threats. Shortly after his first term ended, Welch remarried. In 2009, he tied the knot with state Rep. Margaret Cheney.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-4115

(202) 225-6790

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2303
Washington, DC 20515-4501

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-4115

(202) 225-6790

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2303
Washington, DC 20515-4501

DISTRICT OFFICE

(802) 652-2450

(802) 652-2497

128 Lakeside Avenue Suite 235
Burlington, VT 05401

DISTRICT OFFICE

(802) 652-2450

(802) 652-2497

128 Lakeside Avenue Suite 235
Burlington, VT 05401

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(802) 264-9069

PO Box 1682
Burlington, VT 05402

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

PO Box 1682
Burlington, VT 05402

EXPORT CONTACTS » *

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Agriculture

Mark Fowler
Legislative Assistant

Coleman Gay
Press Assistant; Staff Assistant

Animal Rights

Megan McNamara
Legislative Aide

Appropriations

Patrick Satalin
Legislative Director

Arts

Isaac Loeb
Legislative Aide

isaac.loeb@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-4115

Leah Pickett
Staff Assistant

Banking

Megan Sullivan
Business Outreach Representative

Budget

Isaac Loeb
Legislative Aide

isaac.loeb@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-4115

Campaign

Mark Fowler
Legislative Assistant

Census

Commerce

Patrick Satalin
Legislative Director

Megan Sullivan
Business Outreach Representative

Communication

Patrick Satalin
Legislative Director

Disaster

Isaac Loeb
Legislative Aide

isaac.loeb@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-4115

Economics

Megan Sullivan
Business Outreach Representative

Education

Megan McNamara
Legislative Aide

Energy

Mark Fowler
Legislative Assistant

George Twigg
State Director

Environment

Mark Fowler
Legislative Assistant

George Twigg
State Director

Finance

Patrick Satalin
Legislative Director

Megan Sullivan
Business Outreach Representative

Foreign

Patrick Satalin
Legislative Director

George Twigg
State Director

Govt Ops

Patrick Satalin
Legislative Director

Isaac Loeb
Legislative Aide

isaac.loeb@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-4115

Megan McNamara
Legislative Aide

Leah Pickett
Staff Assistant

Health

Kevin Veller
Outreach Representative

Isaac Loeb
Legislative Aide

isaac.loeb@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-4115

Homeland Security

Megan McNamara
Legislative Aide

Housing

Kevin Veller
Outreach Representative

Patrick Satalin
Legislative Director

Mark Fowler
Legislative Assistant

Megan Sullivan
Business Outreach Representative

Human Rights

Megan McNamara
Legislative Aide

Immigration

Megan McNamara
Legislative Aide

Intelligence

Megan McNamara
Legislative Aide

Intergovernmental

George Twigg
State Director

Internet

Patrick Satalin
Legislative Director

Judiciary

Mark Fowler
Legislative Assistant

Coleman Gay
Press Assistant; Staff Assistant

Leah Pickett
Staff Assistant

Labor

Isaac Loeb
Legislative Aide

isaac.loeb@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-4115

Lobbying Politics

Mark Fowler
Legislative Assistant

Medicare

Isaac Loeb
Legislative Aide

isaac.loeb@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-4115

Military

Megan McNamara
Legislative Aide

National Security

Megan McNamara
Legislative Aide

Privacy

Patrick Satalin
Legislative Director

Public Works

George Twigg
State Director

Recreation

George Twigg
State Director

Leah Pickett
Staff Assistant

Science

Isaac Loeb
Legislative Aide

isaac.loeb@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-4115

Small Business

Patrick Satalin
Legislative Director

Social Security

Isaac Loeb
Legislative Aide

isaac.loeb@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-4115

Tax

Isaac Loeb
Legislative Aide

isaac.loeb@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-4115

Technology

Patrick Satalin
Legislative Director

Telecommunications

Patrick Satalin
Legislative Director

Megan Sullivan
Business Outreach Representative

Trade

Isaac Loeb
Legislative Aide

isaac.loeb@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-4115

Megan Sullivan
Business Outreach Representative

Transportation

Megan McNamara
Legislative Aide

Megan Sullivan
Business Outreach Representative

Urban Affairs

Megan Sullivan
Business Outreach Representative

Veterans

Megan McNamara
Legislative Aide

Women

Megan McNamara
Legislative Aide

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
Peter Welch
Votes: 208,600
Percent: 72.01%
Mark Donka
Votes: 67,543
Percent: 23.32%
2012 PRIMARY
Peter Welch
Unopposed
2010 GENERAL
Peter Welch
Votes: 154,006
Percent: 64.57%
Paul Beaudry
Votes: 76,403
Percent: 32.03%
2010 PRIMARY
Peter Welch
Votes: 65,920
Percent: 100.0%
2008 GENERAL
Peter Welch
Votes: 248,203
Percent: 83.25%
2008 PRIMARY
Peter Welch
Votes: 19,566
Percent: 87.74%
Craig Hill
Votes: 2,635
Percent: 11.82%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (65%), 2008 (83%), 2006 (53%)

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