Shumlin cruises to second term
By PETER HIRSCHFELD
Vermont Press Bureau | November 07,2012
Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin, center, celebrates his victory with his daughters Olivia, left, and Becca, right, on Tuesday in Burlington.
BURLINGTON — Touting single-payer health care and an aggressive renewable energy policy, Gov. Peter Shumlin won a second two-year term Tuesday by an overwhelming margin.
In his inaugural bid for the office in 2010, the Democrat had to wait until the morning after the election to claim his narrow victory.
But this year news outlets had declared Shumlin the winner before even 1 percent of precincts were reporting.
With about half the vote counted Tuesday night, Shumlin was up by 21 points over Republican challenger Randy Brock.
“I can’t tell you what an extraordinary honor and privilege it is to receive the overwhelming mandate from Vermonters that we have for two more years of jobs and job creation and a better future for Vermonters,” Shumlin said to cheers at an election-night rally in Burlington.
Shumlin’s platform in 2012 was nearly identical to his two years ago.
While he’s postponed by three years the date he aims to implement it, a publicly financed, universal health care system remains his administration’s signature policy.
Shumlin during the campaign also highlighted the ills of climate change and the benefits of renewable energy, the costs of which he said deserve at least some short-term ratepayer subsidization.
The governor has balanced the progressive elements of his agenda with a two-year record in which he says he closed budget gaps without resorting to broad-based tax increases. He told Vermonters this fall that he’ll exercise similar fiscal restraint during his second term.
Taken together, he said, the items on his “bold” agenda will lead to job creation and economic development.
Shumlin’s victory headlined a strong night for Democrats, who appeared poised to win five of six statewide offices and to retain or perhaps even widen their 94-48 advantage over Republicans in the Vermont House.
“It looks like we’re going to hold the numbers, and it looks like we may actually pick up a couple seats,” House Speaker Shap Smith told a raucous crowd in the conference room of the Hilton Hotel.
Smith said the gains come in spite of a conservative super PAC funded by a lone Burlington resident that poured about $800,000 into the 2012 elections, much of it going to GOP candidates for the state House and Senate.
“And you know what?” Smith said. “I don’t think it’s going to work.”
Jake Perkinson, chairman of the Vermont Democratic Party, credited a ferocious ground game for the party’s successful showing Tuesday.
Volunteers had donated more than 3,000 hours of their time since Friday to make calls on behalf of state Treasurer Beth Pearce, candidate for auditor Doug Hoffer and other candidates. Perkinson said volunteers and party staff made 143,000 call attempts to voters during that period, bringing total call attempts for the cycle to 450,000.
“And that doesn’t include any robo-calls,” said the Vermont Democratic Party communications director, Ari Wengroff.