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Candidate Closeup: Peter Shumlin - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Candidate Closeup: Peter Shumlin

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Reporters scrutinize him speaking at press conferences, signing bills and making headline news -- that's how many Vermonters see Governor Peter Shumlin. But a select few Vermonters know the real person, not the politician, like his brother Jeff.

"I would say he is the everyday guy. I don't think he's made tremendous adjustments in how he carries himself," Jeff Shumlin said.

Jeff lives in the small town of Putney they grew up in. He runs Putney Student Travel, a business he and his brother bought from their parents after graduating college. Through the eyes of his younger brother, it opens a window to the past, as he pours over childhood photos and recalls his big brother and the 1949 coupe they learned to drive in.

"He propped me up on a pillow and taught me to drive that car and we drove around and around and around in circles in our parents field here. I believe we put 2-3-thousand miles on it in the two to three years we were able," Jeff said.

It was in Putney where Shumlin first entered student government -- in high school, despite battles with dyslexia. "I think because he was compensating for other learning differences. He was so verbal and so outgoing and so full of outward enthusiasm," Jeff said.

Shumlin then went on to become a government major at Wesleyan College and joined the Putney Selectboard in 1984.

"He just became socially, politically active in the community," Jeff said.

When a seat opened up in the Vermont house in 1990, then Governor Madeline Kunin asked Peter Shumlin to step in, beginning what would become a long career in Montpelier. Shumlin served three years in the Vermont House and went on to spend eight, two year terms as a senator for Windham County. During his second term he was selected as the Senate President Pro Tem by his colleagues. He ran unsuccessfully for Lieutenant Governor against Brian Dubie in 2002.  He took four years off from politics, only to become a senator again in 2006.  In 2009 Shumlin announced his candidacy for Governor. He won a fiercely competitive five-way Democratic primary and met Brian Dubie at the polls yet again. This time he won.

"The primary followed by the gubernatorial race were a nail-biter for our family -- there's no doubt about it," Jeff said.

He said the casualty of his brother's leadership has been his personal life. "I think he was ready for the professional challenges, if you will, of being governor. And I think he handles them well. I think on a personal side, it's difficult to give up your personal life," Jeff said.

Shumlin loves to spend time hiking, hunting and running whenever possible -- sometimes the stress of the job prevents him from doing so.

"My mom turned to me -- she's 80 something -- I can't tell you what because she'll get mad at me. I came home and she looked at me and said, 'You look like a word that starts with an H.'"

Shumlin is happy to talk about the women in his life, if you mean his mother, daughters and his estranged wife. As for current significant others? "I don't talk about my private life," he said. "What I can tell you is I'm proud of my role as a dad. I love my daughters -- we are incredibly close. I have a great relationship with their mom and that's what's important to me." Shumlin's currently separated from his wife, Deborah Shumlin, the mother of his daughters Olivia and Rebecca.

Shumlin recently purchased 27 acres in East Montpelier for 35-thousand dollars that was valued at 145-thousand -- a purchase reported as controversial by some media.

Overall, the Governor said the job hasn't changed him and it's a position he doesn't plan to be giving up for years to come. "We're just warming up. We've begun making good progress but we need at least another 24 months to continue the good work that we've begun," he said.

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