In this Jan. 7, 2021, file photo, Vermont Lt. Gov. Molly Gray stands on the Statehouse steps in Montpelier. Credit: Wilson Ring / AP

BURLINGTON, Vermont — Vermont Lt. Gov. Molly Gray announced Monday that she would seek the Democratic Party nomination to fill the U.S. House seat that will become vacant when U.S. Rep. Peter Welch runs for the U.S. Senate.

Gray, 37, a Burlington lawyer who was born and raised on a farm in South Newbury, is seeking Vermont’s first open seat in the U.S. House since 2006 when now-U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders left the House to run for the upper chamber.

Vermont has only sent white men to Washington, making it the only state not to have been represented by a woman or a person of color.

Last month, Democratic U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, who was first elected to the Senate in 1974, announced he would not seek reelection next year. That prompted Welch, who has served in the House since 2007, to announce that he run would for the Senate seat.

Gray said during a Burlington interview she felt she had the experience to help fill the hole in the state’s congressional delegation that will be created upon Leahy’s retirement.

“What we know is that the challenges of rural Vermont, the challenges of our small rural state with its aging population won’t be solved by Vermont alone,” Gray said.

A number of other Vermont politicians have expressed interest in running for the House seat, including Democratic state Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale, of Burlington.

To date, no Republican has publicly expressed interest in running for the House or Senate.

The Vermont 2022 primary is in August ahead of the November election.