Smacking its lips like a lion hovering over a pinned wildebeest on the Serengeti, the Democratic Governors Association is moving Vermont into its top tier of targeted 2010 liberal pickup races, as Gov. Jim Douglas, a long-time moderate Republican of Middlebury, announced his retirement last week.
Douglas was Addison County's first governor to serve in Montpelier since the 19th century. Douglas had faced overwhelming Democrat opposition and vetoes, especially on budgetary issues.
"Vermont voters have always embraced common sense leaders who are willing to deal with problems like creating jobs, improving transportation, protecting the environment, expanding health care access and strengthening schools," said the DGA's Nathan Daschle. "Democrats in the state have long responded to those problems with the sort of the practical solutions and progressive values that Vermonters embrace. We believe that Vermonters are eager for Democratic leadership from the governor's office."
"The Democratic candidates running for this open seat have long records of public service to the people of Vermont," Daschle said. "With such strong leaders in this race, we have an excellent opportunity to win back Vermont's governorship. As a top-tier pickup opportunity for our organization, we are committed to ensuring that a Democrat wins this race in 2010. Our political program will dedicate the same attention and day-to-day involvement that other top-tier states such as Florida and California receive."
"We also thank Gov. Douglas for his years of service and wish him well in his next endeavor," Daschle said.
"As any farmer knows, after many years - working sun up to sun down, seven days a week-there comes a time to turn over the reins to fresh arms. For me, that time is approaching," said 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 a fifth term as governor of Vermont."
Douglas pledged to spend the remaining 16 months of his term continuing the good work that he's done to make Vermont a better place.
Vermont leans strongly liberal Democrat.
President Obama won the state by 37 points. Mostly liberal Democrats hold 95 of the 150 seats in the state house and 22 of the 30 seats in the senate.
Going into the critical 2009 and 2010 election year, when 39 governorships are on the ballot, the Democratic Governors Association is well-positioned to provide candidates with the resources they need to compete.
Already this year, the DGA has claimed it has broken its all-time fundraising record for the first six months of the year, bringing in $11.6 million.