Douglas likely winner of gubernatorial race

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(Host) It appears that Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Douglas will be Vermont’s next governor. With 94% of the vote counted, Douglas has a 6,000-vote lead over Democrat Doug Racine, but Racine is not yet conceding this race.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Douglas took an early lead in the governor’s race and he never gave it up as votes were tallied from every region of the state. As the percentage of votes counted steadily increased, Douglas consistently stayed with roughly 45% of the vote, Racine had about 42% and independent candidate Con Hogan gathered about 10% of the vote.

Because Racine did not issue a concession, Douglas didn’t deliver a victory speech to the GOP faithful who had gathered in Montpelier. But Douglas told Vermont Public Radio that he felt voters responded very strongly to his proposals to strengthen the Vermont economy:

(Douglas) “Vermonters are very concerned about the loss of jobs that are continuing in some parts of the state. They understand that we need strong fiscal leadership to get the economy of our state back on track and I believe they have decided that I can best provide it.”

(Kinzel) And Douglas also thinks his call for tougher drug laws was supported by many voters:

(Douglas) “We’ve lost dozens of young children to drug addiction, they’ve died in the last few years in our state. A lot of parents, a lot of community leaders are very concerned about this and I’ve presented a program to deal with it more aggressively than other candidates. So I think that’s on the minds of Vermonters, too.”

(Kinzel) Racine went to bed without conceding the race and asked his supporters to hang in there until all the votes are counted.

Independent candidate Con Hogan, who received roughly 10% of the vote, said he learned that money plays a much too important role in politics. Hogan says the state needs a strong campaign finance reform law if independent candidates are to have any chance of succeeding in the future:

(Hogan) “Money’s okay, but not when it’s from outside the state of Vermont. When we are starting to spend $300-500,000 a candidate with money that’s just dropped into the process, that’s a thousand times of what any individual Vermonters can give, we really need to work on this.”

(Kinzel) GOP candidate Jim Douglas is expected to announce the formation of a transition team by the end of the week.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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