In front of statewide leaders, allies and enemies alike, Governor Jim Douglas made one of the biggest announcements in his long political career.
"With what will be eight years as governor-- fifteen statewide elections-- I will have held center stage long enough for any leader. I will not seek another term as governor of Vermont," said Douglas, R-Vermont.
An emotional bombshell dropped by a typically steady politician. Fresh out of college Douglas ran for the Vermont House and won, he then went to work for Governor Dick Snelling, eventually winning election to become Secretary of State and Treasurer. Partway through his fourth term as governor Douglas says it's time to step back from politics to spend more time with family.
"And now one of my sons has a son of his own-- a grandchild-- Timothy James Douglas," the governor said. "A new generation has a way of putting things in perspective."
A decision that sent shockwaves through political circles, as many thought he would run again. But at the center of the storm, Douglas is calm about it all.
Later, during a one-on-one interview the governor joked, "Anything going on today?"
The announcement comes on the heels of a legislative session where Democrats defeated him on the budget and put their own spending plan in place.
Reporter Kristin Carlson: How much of your decision was impacted just by the virtue-- for lack of a better word-- of being tired/fatigued of doing battle with the Democratically controlled Legislature?
Douglas: I think Vermonters know I have a lot of energy. I'm all over the state 24/7.
Carlson: I'm curious about what changed because several months ago you gave several strong hints that you would be running again but today you surprised many people by saying you're not.
Douglas: Well I wish the decision could come later than it is, but to be fair to other candidates, I think it's important to make my intentions known and let them make their own decisions. But it frees me of political consequences of my proposals and actions during the legislative session.
Carlson: Will this be a retirement for you?
Douglas: Well I'm too young to not do something so I don't know what the next chapter in my life will be, but I hope to find a way to serve Vermonters the state that I love.
Douglas says he will stay in Vermont and doesn't want a job that will take him out of state-- and that includes a job with the Obama administration.
"I am not running for president. Dorothy has a divorce lawyer on speed dial if I ever ponder that crazy idea," Douglas joked during his press conference. "I am not running for the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House or any other statewide office in 2010."
And with 16 months left on the job, Douglas says he'll work to not be a lame duck.
"And with that I'd like to ask my team to get back to work," he said. "We have a lot do. Thank you all very much."
Governor Douglas says his decision was not based on a fear he would lose. Although Democrats would disagree, Douglas thinks he would have been re-elected but says just because he could have won does not mean that he should run another time.
As for the impact on the legislative session ahead, this past session was very tense and many of the same issues will be back, like how to balance the budget with less money. Democrats and the governor disagreed over where to cut, whether to raise taxes-- and those divisions will still be there. Just now the Governor won't have a re-election hanging over his head, so he may take a sharper approach because as he said, he won't have to worry about political consequences-- at the same time several Democrats in the Legislature are seeking higher office.
Tuesday, March 11 2014 11:49 AM EDT2014-03-11 15:49:17 GMT
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