Burlington Rep. Chris Pearson announced Thursday that, after five terms in the House, he plans to run for the Senate.
Pearson, who chairs the House Progressive Caucus, said he will run in the Democratic primary for one of the six Chittenden County seats. He said he had been considering leaving the Legislature entirely after the session.
“I like the idea of continuing to serve, of potentially having more influence but in a slightly different role,” Pearson said.
He added that he likes the idea of Senate work where legislation “tends to be a bit higher-level, less detail-oriented.”
Pearson said his legislative priorities would remain relatively unchanged from his House days, where he worked on issues of climate change, property tax relief and health care reform.
“One in 5 Vermonters can’t afford to fill the prescription their doctor writes,” Pearson said in a news release announcing his bid. “It’s absurd that we pay the highest price on the globe for drugs people depend on.”
Two of the Chittenden County Senate seats will be open. Sen. David Zuckerman is leaving to run for lieutenant governor, while Diane Snelling resigned in March to chair the Natural Resources Board. Her appointed replacement, Helen Riehle, said she will not run in November.
A number of other candidates are running, including Vermont Interfaith Action Executive Director Debbie Ingram, Burlington defense attorney David Scherr and Winooski attorney Faisal Gill.
Four Chittenden County senators are seeking re-election: Democrats Philip Baruth, Ginny Lyons and Michael Sirotkin; and Tim Ashe, who wears the label of both the Democratic and Progressive parties.
Pearson said he will work to collect the required signatures before the May 26 filing deadline and announce an official launch event soon.
“The pieces are coming together,” Pearson said. “I just got out of the session, and I haven’t had much time to do much more than make the decision.”
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