Shumlin won’t run for governor

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(Host) Former Senate Democratic leader Peter Shumlin says he won’t be a candidate for governor this year. Burlington Mayor, Peter Clavelle, says he’s relieved by Shumlin’s decision because it means that Clavelle probably won’t face a bruising primary fight to win the Democratic nomination.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) Shumlin’s decision not to seek the Democratic gubernatorial nomination was a closely guarded secret. In fact, most party leaders had no idea what Shumlin was going to do just before his announcement.

Speaking in the Senate chamber, Shumlin told reporters that this is not the year for him to re-enter politics, after serving in the Legislature for a decade. He lost the election for lieutenant governor in 2002 in a tight three-way race with Brian Dubie and Anthony Pollina. Since that time, Shumlin has been running his student travel business in Putney and he says his family likes having him around.

(Shumlin) “I’ve been serving the public and been in Montpelier, as you know, for all of their lives and being home with them has been an extraordinary thing and I’m not going to give it up.”

(Kinzel) Burlington Mayor Peter Clavelle now remains as the only announced Democratic candidate for governor. Clavelle says he’s pleased that he won’t face a tough primary against Shumlin.

(Clavelle) “Vermont has an unusual calendar, with the primary in September you only have seven weeks from the primary date to the date of the election and that is a challenge given that short period of time to bring folks together and to become an active participant in a coordinated campaign.”

(Kinzel) For the past few months Clavelle has been actively touring the state, meeting with local and county Democratic groups in an effort to ease concerns about his progressive background. Clavelle thinks this effort, for the most part, has been a success.

(Clavelle) “I think I’ve made substantial inroads. I think it’s become clear to folks that I have become a Democrat and I will work within the Democratic Party. That is not an issue, doesn’t seem to be an issue for most folks that I’m speaking with.”

(Kinzel) Another person who’s very pleased that the Democrats may not have a major primary is party chairman Scudder Parker. Parker says he dislikes primaries because it’s often difficult to bring the various factions of the party together in the brief period between the primary and the November election.

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

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