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James H. Douglas (born June 21, 1951) is an American politician from the U.S. state of Vermontmarker. A Republican, he was first elected Governor of Vermont in 2002 and has been reelected three times since then with a majority of the vote. He is also the current Chairman of the National Governors Association.

Douglas is currently serving his fourth 2-year term as the Governor of Vermont. On August 27, 2009, Douglas announced that he will not seek re-election for a fifth term in 2010.

Early career

Douglas was born in Springfieldmarker, Massachusettsmarker. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Middlebury Collegemarker in Middleburymarker, Vermont, where he had been active in the College Republicans. At Middlebury College, Douglas was a Russian Studies major. Vermont maintains a sister-state relationship with Kareliamarker, Russiamarker, though this relationship was started in 1991 under the governorship of Madeline Kunin.

In November 1972, Douglas was elected to the Vermont House of Representatives, where he became the House Majority Leader during his third two-year term at the age of 25. He left the Vermont General Assembly in 1979, afterwards serving as a top aide to Governor Richard A. Snelling. Douglas was elected Secretary of State in November 1980, a post which he held until 1992. That year he sought election to the U.S. Senate, but was defeated by Democratic incumbent Patrick Leahy. In November 1994 he was elected State Treasurer, after receiving the endorsement of both major parties.

Governor of Vermont

In the 2002 gubernatorial election to succeed five-term Governor Howard Dean, Douglas defeated Democratic Lieutenant Governor Doug Racine, 45 to 42 percent. The Vermont constitution requires that the state legislature select who is to become governor if no candidate receives over 50% of the votes. Because neither candidate won 50% of the vote, Douglas was officially selected by the legislature as required by the state constitution. Douglas won reelection to a second two-year term in 2004, defeating Democrat Peter Clavelle, 59 to 38 percent.

In early 2005, Douglas announced that he would not run against Democratic-leaning independent Jim Jeffords in the 2006 Senate race. In April 2005, Jeffords announced that he would not seek re-election, which led to speculation that Douglas would throw his hat into the ring against Vermont independent Congressman Bernie Sanders, who had announced his candidacy for the seat. On April 30, Douglas announced again that he would not seek Jeffords' seat, and simultaneously announced that he would run for re-election for governor in 2006. Many pundits believed that Douglas was the only Republican who could possibly defeat Sanders, and his decision to run for governor effectively handed the open Senate seat to Sanders. Douglas was re-elected governor with 57% of the vote over Democrat Scudder Parker.

On May 22, 2007, Governor Douglas signed a landmark civil rights bill banning discrimination on the basis of gender identity by employers, financial institutions, housing, public accommodations, and other contexts. This bill had already passed both chambers of the legislature by a veto-proof majority, so a veto would not have been able to prevent this bill from becoming law. Douglas had previously vetoed a similar bill in 2006.

Douglas decided to stand for re-election in 2008 and ran unopposed in the Republican primary on September 9, 2008. His principal challengers in the general election were Independent/Progressive Anthony Pollina, and Democrat Gaye Symington. Douglas handily won a fourth term.

Douglas became the first governor to meet with President Barack Obama in the White House on February 2, 2009.

On April 6, 2009 Douglas vetoed the bill allowing marriage for same sex couples in Vermont. The Vermont House and Senate overrode the veto the next day, marking the first time Douglas had been overridden during his tenure.

On June 2, 2009, Democrats in the Vermont House and Senate voted to override Douglas's veto of the Vermont state budget.

On August 27, 2009, Douglas announced that he would not seek re-election in 2010.

Electoral history

{{Election box candidate with party link|
 |party      = Democratic Party (US)
 |candidate  = Patrick Leahy (incumbent}
 |votes      = 154,762
 |percentage = 54.16
 |change     =


  1. Executive Order No. 100-91 ("Vermont-Karelia Sister-State Relationship") (Jan. 7,1991). The text of this Executive Order is available here.
  2. Acts and Resolves of the 2007-2008 session of the Vermont General Assembly, Act 41 (S.51). This bill had already passed both chambers of the legislature by a veto-proof majority, so a veto would not have been able to prevent this bill from becoming law. The text of this act is available here.
  3. H.865 from the 2005-2006 legislative session. The text of the bill as passed by the General Assembly is available here.
  4. [1]"Douglas Meets with President Obama,"
  5. This will likely lead to the governor losing his seat when he runs for re-election in 2010 because of the plurality of liberal non-religious voters in the state of Vermont and the discontent with the governor's handling of the economic crisis.[2] Vermont Legislature Legalizes Gay Marriage
  6. [3]"Vermont House, Senate Override Douglas Veto," (June 2, 2009)
  7. [4]"Douglas Will Not Seek Re-Election," (Aug. 27, 2009)

External links

  • Follow the Money - Jim Douglas

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