MONTPELIER — Gov. James Douglas, a Middlebury Republican who has provided almost continuous service to the state since 1973, announced this morning that he will not seek a fifth term in Vermont’s top elected office.
Speaking in the governor’s ceremonial office in the Statehouse and flanked by many members of his cabinet, Douglas in an 11-minute speech stated that he was ready to move.
While Douglas did not specify what his future plans would be, he did say that he will not be a candidate for U.S. House of U.S. Senate in 2010. And he vowed to pursue his agenda of fiscal restraint, job creation, health care reform and holding the line on taxes in his remaining 16 months in office.
“Those who think there is an absentee landlord in the executive office are sorely mistaken,” Douglas said.
He did not take questions from the media, but Douglas was scheduled to meet with members of the press individually at his office Thursday afternoon.
The governor offered thanks to his many supporters, singling out specially his wife, Dorothy, and Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie, an Essex Junction Republican who was not at the press conference.
Also in attendance at the press conference were two Democratic gubernatorial candidates: State Sen. Susan Bartlett of Stowe and former Lt. Gov. and current State Sen. Doug Racine. Douglas narrowly defeated Racine, a Richmond Democrat, in 2002 governor’s race.
Secretary of State Deb Markowitz, a Democrat who has also thrown here hat in the 2010 governor’s race, was not at the press conference. Senate Pro Tem Peter Shumlin has not announced an official bid for the office yet, but the Putney Democrat has discussed the prospect.
Douglas has served 36 years in public office. A Massachusetts native, he was first elected to the Vermont House in 1972, the year he graduated from Middlebury College.
He served as secretary of state from 1981 to 1993. After losing a race for U.S. Senate to Democratic incumbent Patrick Leahy in 1992, Douglas worked for Porter Medical Center before winning a race for state treasurer in 1994. He served as treasurer until he became governor in 2003.
Douglas gave no specific reasons in the press conference why he won’t run again for the governorship.
“There comes a time to turn over the reins to new arms,” he said.