Donovan won’t seek reelection as Vermont attorney general

Published: May. 5, 2022 at 2:45 PM EDT|Updated: May. 5, 2022 at 5:58 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan says he will not run for reelection in 2022 or seek any other public office.

Donovan has spent nearly two decades in public service and says he has decided it’s time to move on to another venture, but that he’s loved his time helping the public.

“I just want to take the opportunity to tell Vermonters thank you for believing in me; it’s meant a lot,” said Donovan, D-Vt. Attorney General.

Donovan was first elected attorney general in 2016. Ten years before that, he was the Chittenden County state’s attorney.

Donovan says he hasn’t figured out his next steps, but he will be on the job hunt when his term ends in January.

“After 16 years, it’s been a long time... and I’d say the last year has been hard. It’s a tough job. It’s a great job but it’s a tough job and there’s a lot going on. I just think when you know in your gut that you have to make a decision and make a move, you have got to trust your gut,” he said.

Political observers named Donovan as someone likely to run for higher office in the future, and a recent UNH poll found some 38% of Vermonters surveyed said they think favorably of Donovan.

But he says he wants to take a break from politics.

Former federal prosecutor and legal analyst Jerry O’Neill says attorney general is not an easy job, but Donovan was smart and innovative and never a politician in a classic sense. He says Donovan worked to enact programs and policies that would help Vermonters move forward.

“He’s been in favor of getting Vermont’s prisoners back here in Vermont. There’s not political appetite that says that’s going to get him elected somewhere but he knows that’s the right thing to do. He’s worked on drug court issues to find programs that would help Vermonters-- diversions, those kinds of things,” O’Neill said.

Even though he said he is taking a break from politics, I asked Donovan if he was interested in running for governor. He answered that question by saying it’s highly unlikely and that he fully expects Gov. Phil Scott to run again.

Shortly after Donovan announced he is not running for reelection, one of his employees said she may run for his job. Charity Clark is the attorney general’s chief of staff and says she’s seriously thinking about throwing her hat in the ring.

Chittenden County Prosecutor Sarah George says she is not running for AG.

Brooks McArthur says he’s thinking about it. McArthur is in private practice now but was a deputy prosecutor when Donovan ran the Chittenden County office.

Washington County Prosecutor Rory Thibault is also thinking about running.

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