Becca Balint is, simply put, a teacher, parent, senator, Vermonter. But since she’s running as a Democrat for her state’s single seat in Congress, it’s all about the people of her big state. “I love people,” she said Hollywood Life during an EXCLUSIVE interview, in the waning days before the Nov. 8 midterm elections. “What drives me is that I love people. And I want to work hard, but I also want to be happy in that work.” Becca, 54, is running for the one Vermont seat in the US Congress against Republicans Liam Madden, a first time candidate. If she wins, she will be the first woman to represent her state, making it a historic bid. She will also be the first openly gay person to represent Vermont in Congress. The winner will succeed the outgoing Democrat Peter Welch.
And as Becca shared with us, she continues to work on the “fundamental right” of abortion for women. Fortunately, she shared, Vermont has a head start — but also claims Madden is working against her. “I’ve done a lot of work on reproductive rights in Vermont,” she explained, noting that Vermont codified Roe V. Wade into law before the June Supreme Court decision to overturn it. To take it a step further, Becca says, they moved to “have a constitutional amendment in Vermont guaranteeing reproductive freedom.” As it moves down the chain, all the way to the voters in November, Balint emphasizes that Vermont voters have a chance to address this constitutional amendment — but Madden is working to dismantle it. “He does not support that constitutional amendment,” she shared.
“And that’s absolutely an important line of disagreement between us,” she continued. “He has no experience.” In the last debates, Balint says he was asked why he didn’t support an “absolutely” qualified woman running for Congress — given the state’s history of never sending a woman. “And he essentially said, ‘It’s not really important to have gender diversity in elected office,'” she revealed. “And I think that stands in stark contrast, it says a lot, when you think about his stance on reproductive freedom. The conversations are different when there are women in the room talking about reproductive health.”
That’s clearly a red flag for Balint, whose foresight helped codify Roe before the overturn became a national crisis for women’s health care. “We have to get better at framing this as about fundamental rights and fairness,” she explained. “And that this is the first time in modern political history where a Supreme Court has taken away a right.” That her own daughter has fewer rights than previous generations is unacceptable to Balint, who has two children of her own – a 12-year-old daughter and a 15-year-old son with her opera singer and lawyer wife Elizabeth Wohl.
“Most Americans, even if they don’t follow politics closely, understand that we don’t want the highest court in the land in the business of taking away rights from people,” says Balint. “And that’s essentially what happened.” Her concerns fizzle out, and rightly so. “I am concerned about Judge Thomas and his ties to the rebellion,” she said Hollywood Life. “And the way the next thing is same-sex marriage. Most people understand issues of fairness and equality. And all of this is part of a larger attack on women’s rights. It’s backlash.”
She notes that these “fundamental issues of bodily autonomy” can often “take the bread and butter of inflation” and other daily issues of survival. “We have to be better,” she says. “Those of us who care deeply about reproductive rights and bodily autonomy, we must continue to frame them as we protect your rights, and the opportunity for fairness and justice in this nation.”
As she and her wife continue to raise an adolescent daughter, Becca also notes that she is hearing from Vermont voters that they have fears about where to send their daughters for college. “They say, ‘I’m really worried about where my kids are going to go to college,'” Balint notes. ”I don’t want them to go to college in the state that doesn’t have reproductive rights. I don’t want them to ever be in a horrible personal dynamic where they couldn’t make decisions about their own bodies.’ Because there are essentially fundamentalists. And they are enablers who have hijacked the system for political gains. It’s not about protecting people. It’s about political gamesmanship. And yes, it makes me angry. Really pisses me off.”
This is not the only matter that is personal for the prominent politician. She also took a hard line on gun safety in a state that has a strong rural hunting culture. As a mother and former middle school teacher, the growing crisis of gun violence in classrooms and elsewhere moved her to action. While backcountry hunting continues, she says now, “there are a lot of people who are gun owners who also believe you shouldn’t be able to own an assault rifle,” Balint says. “There are many people who support the Second Amendment and do not want to see their children slaughtered in schools.”
To that end, she says some of the work she is “most proud” of involves gun safety measures. “We were able to pass universal background checks, we were able to really focus on closing the Charleston loophole and some other very important pieces of gun violence prevention,” she said of her time as a senator.
Coming full circle, says Becca, who is supported by HerBoldMove, the “health of democracy” is at stake as the midterms approach. And this is no small matter. “The overarching issue for voters in Vermont, from what I’m hearing, is that their primary concern is about the health of democracy itself,” she said. “People are worried that we are sliding into authoritarianism. They are very concerned about elements within the GOP who clearly do not believe in the government believe in free and fair elections. And so it was absolutely at the forefront of so many people thinking about issues at the federal level. “
And whether it’s election denial, housing issues or gun safety, Becca Balint is clearly front and center on the issues that matter to Vermonters. To learn more about her campaign for US Congress, visit her website here. To register to vote, visit Vote.org.