- The Washington Times - Friday, August 28, 2009

MONTPELIER, Vt. | Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas announced Thursday that he won’t seek re-election, saying that after 36 years in the spotlight, it was time to call it quits.

In a surprise announcement he attributed mainly to personal reasons, the 58-year-old Republican said he wouldn’t run for another two-year term next year and had no plans to seek other elected office.

“… 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. 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 anybody,” he said.

Mr. Douglas, who’d said in recent months that he planned to run again, made the announcement midway through his fourth term in a room packed with longtime aides, supporters and some political opponents. He wasn’t specific in saying why he didn’t want to continue in the job, saying only he’d been in public service long enough.

“I know there will be some speculation as to what is next, so I want to lay a few questions to rest immediately: I am not running for president. [Wife] Dorothy has a divorce lawyer on speed dial if I ever utter that crazy idea,” he said.

Elected recently to head the National Governors Association, he also has been an informal adviser to President Obama on health care and other issues.

A fiscal conservative and social moderate who has bucked Vermont’s political tide for years, Mr. Douglas has endured an increasingly rocky relationship with the state’s Democrat-controlled legislature. In April, the legislature approved gay marriage over his veto. It also overrode his veto of the state budget.

Three Democrats have already announced plans to run for governor in 2010.

On the Republican side, Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie is seen as the most obvious candidate. He left the door open to a potential run Thursday.

“The governor’s announcement today changes the political landscape in Vermont,” Mr. Dubie said. “As Vermonters reflect on this new landscape, I will contemplate my options. Right now, I will focus on doing my job. I will discuss my plans when the time is right.”

A fixture in Vermont politics since 1972, when he was elected to the House of Representatives as a 21-year-old fresh out of Middlebury College, Mr. Douglas went on to serve as secretary of state and state treasurer before being elected governor in 2002.

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