Home>Articles>Leahy is the last U.S. Senator to serve with Case and Williams

Patrick Leahy, right, with Vice President Walter Mondale in 1977. (Photo: Office of U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy).

Leahy is the last U.S. Senator to serve with Case and Williams

Vermont Democrat retiring after 48 years in the U.S. Senate

By David Wildstein, December 30 2022 11:46 am

The last U.S. Senator to have served with both Clifford Case and Harrison Williams will leave office next week.

Patrick Leahy was a well-known 34-years-old prosecutor in 1974 when he became the first Democrat in history to win a Senate seat in Vermont.   He wasn’t supposed to win the seat being  vacated after 34 years by George Aiken.

The new senator was expected to be moderate Republican Richard W. Mallary, a 45-year-old dairy farmer who had been elected to local office in his hometown of less than 600 people at age 21 and then Speaker of the State House of Representatives at age 36.  He served in the State Senate and in the governor’s cabinet before winning Vermont’s at-large congressional seat in 1972 with 65% of the vote.

A Vermont Times poll conducted in September had Mallary heading Leahy by nine points, 42%-33%.

U.S. Senate candidates Patrick Leahy, left, Richard Mallary, center, and Bernie Sanders in 1974. (Photo: Office of Senator Leahy).

But Watergate and the resignation of President Richard Nixon propelled Leahy to a narrow 4,406-vote win against Mallery, 49.5% to 46.4%, in the Democratic wave election.

(Bernie Sanders received 4% as an independent candidate, one of four statewide races he lost with single-digit vote totals before his election as mayor of Burlington in 1981.)

Leahy almost lost his bid for a second term in 1980, when Ronald Reagan carried Vermont, 44%-38% against Jimmy Carter.  Republican Stewart Ledbetter, a former state banking and insurance commission, came within 2,755 votes of ousting Leahy, 49.8% to 48.5%.

After giving up his congressional seat to run for the Senate, Mallary returned to Vermont in 1975 and held a series of private sector banking and public utilities positions.  He also served in Gov. Richard Snelling’s cabinet for three years.

In 1998, Mallary launched a political comeback by winning a seat in the State House of Representatives.  But after supporting Vermont’s Civil Union law, he lost party support for re-election and ran unsuccessfully as an independent.  Later, he served as chairman of the Brookfield Town Planning Commission.

Mallary had also backed Vermont’s Death with Dignity law.  He took his own life in 2011 after being diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer.

Leahy served with Case from 1975 until 1979.  After four terms in the Senate, Case lost the Republican primary to conservative Jeffrey Bell, a former Reagan speechwriter, and basketball star Bill Bradley won the Senate seat.  He served with Williams until 1982, when the four-term senator resigned following his conviction in the Abscam scandal.

In addition to Case, Williams and Bradley, Leahy served with seven other senators from New Jersey: Nicholas Brady, Frank Lautenberg, Bob Torricelli, Jon Corzine, Bob Menendez, Jeff Chiesa and Cory Booker.

Spread the news: