Douglas says eight years is enough; he won't seek re-election

08/27/09 5:50PM By Ross Sneyd
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AP/Toby Talbot
Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas smiles as he finishes his remarks in his ceremonial office in Montpelier, Vt., Thursday, Aug. 27, 2009
(Host) Governor Jim Douglas threw the 2010 election wide open on Thursday.

(Douglas) "After 36 years as a public servant, 28 of those years in statewide office, with what will be eight years as governor, and through 15 statewide elections, I will have held center stage long enough for any leader. I will not seek another term as governor."

(Host) As VPR's Ross Sneyd explains, Douglas didn't say precisely what he'll do when he leaves office.

(Sneyd) For the first time in 30 years, the name of James H. Douglas will not appear on a statewide ballot in Vermont.

Douglas explained his decision in the simple, homespun terms that he favors.

(Douglas) "As any farmer knows, after many years working sunup to sundown seven days a week, there comes a time to turn over the reins to fresh arms. For me that time is approaching."

(Sneyd) Jim Douglas won his first office in 1972 when he was elected a state representative from Middlebury.

He went on to serve in the first administration of Governor Richard Snelling and then was elected secretary of state for 12 years and treasurer for eight.

The only election he's lost was in 1992 when he challenged Sen. Patrick Leahy.

Douglas says it's been a privilege to serve as Vermont's governor. And he says it will continue to be.

(Douglas) "For the next 16 months, I am running state government. Those who presume there will be an absentee landlord in the corner office will be mistaken. I'll focus as intensely as I always do on the needs of Vermonters and I'll continue to fight every day to put this state on a firm footing. Now is not the time to rest on our laurels."

(Sneyd) The governor also made clear what he won't do.

(Douglas) "I know there'll be some speculation as to what is next. So I want to put a few questions to rest. I am not running for president. Dorothy has a divorce lawyer on speed dial if I ever utter that crazy idea. I'm not running for the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House or any statewide office in 2010."

(Sneyd) But why quit in 16 months? And why announce it now?

Douglas didn't give many clues on those questions.

(Douglas) "When I first took my seat as the representative from Middlebury in 1973, I was a young man right out of college. With some very good fortune, I met and married Dorothy. Soon we were raising two extraordinary boys. And now one of my sons has a son of his own, our first grandchild, Timothy James Douglas. A new generation has a way of putting things in perspective."

(Sneyd) And with that, Douglas moved on, promising "an hour of remembrances" for another time.

For VPR News, I'm Ross Sneyd in Montpelier.


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