Vermont gubernatorial election, 2010

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In the Vermont gubernatorial election of 2010, held on November 2, 2010, Democrat Peter Shumlin defeated Republican Brian Dubie, the state's current Lieutenant Governor. Incumbent Jim Douglas, the Republican Governor of Vermont, was term-limited.

In the August 24, 2010 primary elections, Brian Dubie had the benefit of facing no primary opposition. Peter Shumlin faced four opponents and won with barely a quarter of a point. The Democrat's five-way race on primary day dragged on for nearly a week before Shumlin was certified as the winner by a 197 vote margin. Doug Racine called for a recount, leaving a tiny element of doubt on the Democratic side that persisted for nearly two weeks further, until the final, certified, results.

Vermont is the only state in the Union to feature a Constitutional provision that hands control of the governor's seat to the state legislature in the event that no candidate claims a plurality of the vote in the general election. Under Chapter II, § 47 of the Vermont Constitution:

"...If, at any time, there shall be no election, of Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, or Treasurer, of the State, the Senate and House of Representatives shall by a joint ballot, elect to fill the office, not filled as aforesaid, one of the three candidates for such office (if there be so many) for whom the greatest number of votes shall have been returned."[1]

This statute nearly came into play in 2010 as Shumlin's victory was only 1.8 points over Dubie, babrely enough to avoid recounts and legislative involvement.

November 2, 2010 general election results

As of November 9, 2010, results were official.[2]

Governor of Vermont, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngPeter Shumlin 49.5% 119,543
     Republican Brian E. Dubie 47.7% 115,212
     Independent Dennis Steele 0.8% 1,917
     United States Marijuana Cris Ericson 0.8% 1,819
     Independent Dan Feliciano 0.6% 1,341
     Independent Em Peyton 0.3% 684
     Liberty Union Ben Mitchell 0.2% 429
     Write-In Various 0.3% 660
Total Votes 241,605
Election Results via Vermont Secretary of State

Inauguration and transition

Inaugural date

Governor elect Shumlin took the oath of office on January 6, 2011.

Transition team

Governor-elect Shumlin's transition team could be reached directly at 802 828 3480.

Appointments in the Shumlin Administration

Shumlin's spokesman, Alex MacLean, confirmed the transition was asking all of outgoing Governor Douglas' appointess to submit letters of resignations, giving the Shumlin team the option to rehire or replace them.[3]

At the top of the team was Bill Lofy, a Democratic political operative, as Chief of Staff. Treasurer Jeb Spaulding was named Administration Secretary. Also on board early with the in-coming administration was Beth Robinson, who was named the General Counsel to the Governor. Senator Susan Bartlett, who lost the primary to Shumlin, became Special Assistant to the Governor. Moving over from the campaign, where he served as Campaign Manager, was Alex MacLean, talking over as Secretary of Civil and Military Affairs.

A fresh round of appointments on November 22, 2010 included four new names:[4]

  • Lawrence Miller as Secretary of Commerce and Community Development
  • Patricia Moulton-Powden as Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Community Development
  • Chuck Ross as Secretary of Agriculture
  • Annie Noonan as Commissioner of Labor

Race background

Vermont's legislature was dominated by the Democratic Party during the 2010 election, where they enjoyed 23 of 30 Senate seats and 94 of 150 House seats, respective majorities of 76% and 63%. However, in the event that the top vote getter in a gubernatorial election where no one takes at least 50% of the vote belongs to another party, the legislature could conceivably appoint as governor a candidate who did not win the popular vote.

Such an outcome was a potential risk in 2008, when the Progressive Party ran a strong third-party race and analysts wondered if such a situation might leave the final outcome in legislative hands.[5] In 2010, third parties are presenting nowhere near such a viable threat to the major parties.

The 2010 Progressive candidate was explicit about her intentions to drop out of the race after the primary and rally support around the Democrat, which is precisely what she did. Republican candidate Brian Dubie was well-known and benefited from an uncontested primary season. Democrats, however, waited for days after the August primary just to know who, in fact, had won the five-way race. Ultimately, Peter Shumlin emerged as the candidate.

August 24, 2010 primary

With a small population and a primary date shared with Florida, site of Rick Scott's outsider race for the GOP nomination, and Arizona, focus of international attention after the implementation of a new immigration law, Vermont's tight Democratic gubernatorial primary went under the radar.

After midnight on election day, the top vote getters were separated by all of 75 votes, a razor-thin margin even given the state's small population. Matt Dunne, with a fifth of the vote, and Susan Bartlett, well back with 5%, were out, leaving Markowitz, Racine, and Shumlin with around 25% each.[6]

At some point in the course of primary night, the three leading contenders for the nomination all held the lead. The Vermont Secretary of State delayed posting results until the canvassing committee met on August 31, 2010, leaving a host of race watchers and politics writers to obsess over the exact vote tally.[7]

By midday on Wednesday, there was still no clear winner. However, Secretary of State Deb Markowitz had fallen out of the race, narrowing the contest to a fight for each vote between Doug Racine and Peter Shumlin, both members of the Vermont Senate. With 96% of precincts reporting, Shumlin holds a tenuous 132 vote lead.[8][9]

As of August 28, 2010, while the Vermont Secretary of State had yet to post an official canvass, the Burlington Free Press reported the latest vote count to give the Democratic nomination to Peter Shumlin by 197 votes.[10]

Certification looked to be delayed further still when Doug Racine called for a recount.[11]

2010 Race for Governor - Democrat Primary[12]
Candidates Percentage
Susan J. Bartlett (D) 5.15%
Matt Dunne (D) 20.99%
Deborah L. Markowitz (D) 24.08%
Douglas A. Racine (D) 24.76%
Green check mark.jpg Peter Shumlin (D) 25.03%
Total votes 73,017

Race ratings

See also: Gubernatorial elections 2010, Race tracking

2010 Race Rankings Vermont
Race Tracker Race Rating
The Cook Political Report[13] Toss-up
Congressional Quarterly Politics[14] Toss-up
Larry J. Sabato's Crystal Ball[15] Lean Democrat
Rasmussen Reports Gubernatorial Scorecard[16] Leans Democrat
The Rothenberg Political Report[17] Toss-up Tilting Democratic
Overall Call Democrat


5. Rasmussen moved race from "Toss-up" to "Leans Democrat" on October 31st.

4. Rothenberg moved race from "Pure Toss-up" to "Toss-up Tilting Democratic" on October 28th.

3. Larry J. Sabato moved race from "Toss-up" to "Lean Democrat" on October 28th.

2. Rothenberg moved race from "Toss-up Tilting Republican" to "Pure Toss-up" in October 22nd ratings.

1. Congressional Quarterly ranked this gubernatorial contest as "Leans Democratic" as of January 2010. However, by June 2010, Congressional Quarterly Gubernatorial Race Tracker for 2010 re-ranked the race as "Toss up."[18]


General election polling

2010 Race for Vermont Governor - Rasmussen Reports
Date Reported Dubie (R) Shumlin (D) Other Don't Know
October 28, 2010[19] 45% 50% 1% 3%
September 13, 2010[20] 46% 49% 2% 3%
(Sample)[21] n=500 MoE=+/- 4.5% p=0.05


The November Ballot – Who Made It? Vermont Governor[22][23][24]
Nominee Affiliation
Peter Shumlin Democrat
Brian E. Dubie Republican
Ben Mitchell Socialist Party USA
Ben Mitchell Liberty Union
Cris Ericson Marijuana
Ben Johnson Working Families
Daniel "Dan" Feliciano Independent
Em Peyton Independent
Dennis P. Steele Vermont Independence Day Party
Dennis P. Steele Second Vermont Republic
This lists candidates who won their state's primary or convention, or who were unopposed, and who were officially certified for the November ballot by their state's election authority.

Under Vermont's law, if no single candidate receives at least 50% of the vote in November, the state legislature, currently controlled by Democrats in the lower chamber and Republicans in the upper chamber, will choose the next Governor. Vermont's legislature is America's only state chamber with significant third party presence; the center-left Progressive Party holds six seats, giving them control of 4% of the legislature.



Liberty Party and Socialist Party USA

Marijuana Party


  • Martha Abbott, chair of the state Progressive Party


  • Incumbent Jim Douglas announced on August 27, 2009 that he wadid not run for re-election.

Working Families

Bold text

Gubernatorial electoral history

2004 Gubernatorial Results[25][26]
Candidates Percentage
Jim Douglas (R) 58.70%
Peter Clavelle (D) 37.93%
Cris Ericson (M) 1.36%
Patricia Hejny (I) 0.79%
Hardy Machia (L) 0.73%
Peter Diamondstone (LU) 0.42%
(write-in) 0.07%
Total votes 309,285
2006 Gubernatorial Results[27][28]
Candidates Percentage
Jim Douglas (R) 56.38%
Scudder Parker (D) 41.17%
Cris Ericson (I) 0.94%
Jim Hogue (VG) 0.74%
Benjamin Clarke (VL) 0.46%
(write-in) 0.30%
Total votes 262,524
2008 Gubernatorial Results[29][30]
Candidates Percentage
Jim Douglas (R) 53.43%
Anthony Pollina (I) 21.87%
Gaye Symington (D) 21.79%
Tony O'Connor (CRE) 0.97%
Sam Young (I) 0.78%
Peter Diamondstone (LU) 0.54%
Chris Ericson (I) 0.53%
(write-in) 0.08%
Total votes 289,085

Presidential electoral history

2000 Presidential Results
Candidates Percentage
George W. Bush (R) 40.70%
Al Gore (D) 50.63%
2004 Presidential Results
Candidates Percentage
George W. Bush (R) 38.80%
John Kerry (D) 58.94%
2008 Presidential Results[31]
Candidates Percentage
John McCain (R) 30.45%
Barack Obama (D) 67.46%
1992 Presidential Results
Candidates Percentage
George H.W. Bush (R) 30.42%
Bill Clinton (D) 46.11%
1996 Presidential Results
Candidates Percentage
Bob Dole (R) 31.09%
Bill Clinton (D) 53.35%

See also

External links

Candidate pages


  1. The Vermont Statutes Online, "Constitution of the State of Vermont," July 9, 1793, accessed August 30, 2010
  2. Vermont Secretary of State, "2010 GENERAL ELECTION OFFICIAL RESULTS: Vote Totals and Mailing List for the Federal and Statewide Races, revised November 12, 2010," accessed November 15, 2010
  3. Burlington Free Press, "Shumlin administration brings job openings," November 22, 2010
  4. Burlington Free Press, "Shumlin makes four appointments to economic team," November 22, 2010
  5. Governing Magazine, "VT-Governor: Will the Legislature Make the Decision?," August 18, 2010
  6. Daily Kos, "Vermont and Oklahoma - the other races chime in," August 24, 2010
  7. Politico, "The 2010 Results Map: Vermont Gubernatorial," August 25, 2010
  8. Washington Post, "Primary results from the August 24 races," accessed August 25, 2010
  9. Associated Press, "Vermont County Vote Results: Dem Governor Primary," August 25, 2010
  10. Taegan Goddard's Political Wire, "Shumlin Wins Democratic Nomination in Vermont," August 27, 2010
  11. Burlington Free Press, "Shumlin wins; Racine calls for a recount," August 27, 2010
  12. Vermont Secretary of State, Elections Division, “August 24, 2010 Primary Election Results, Governor”, August 24, 2010
  13. The Cook Political, “Governors: Race Ratings”
  14. CQ Politics, “2010 Race Ratings: Governors”
  15. Larry J. Sabato's Crystal Ball', “2010 Governor Ratings”
  16. Rasmussen Reports', “Election 2010: Scorecard Ratings”
  17. Rothenberg Political Report, “Governor Ratings”
  18. CQ Politics, "Race Ratings Chart 2010: Governor"
  19. Rasmussen Reports, “Vermont Governor: Shumlin (D) Has The Edge on Dubie (R)”, October 30, 2010
  20. Rasmussen Reports, “Election 2010: Vermont Governor: Shumlin (D) 49%, Dubie (R) 46%”, September 15, 2010
  21. [More complete methodology and sampling tabs are available at]
  22. Vermont Secretary of State - Elections and Campaign Finance “Final General Election Independent Candidate List, certified June 17, 2010
  23. Vermont Secretary of State - Elections and Campaign Finance “Final General Election Minor Party Nominations List, accessed September 20, 2010
  24. Vermont Secretary of State - Elections and Campaign Finance “2010 Candidate Information and Web Links , accessed September 20, 2010
  25. US Election Atlas, “2004 Gubernatorial General Election Results - Vermont”
  26. Vermont Office of the Secretary of State , “Detailed Results 2004 General Election For Governor”
  27. US Election Atlas, “2006 Gubernatorial General Election Results - Vermont”
  28. Vermont Office of the Secretary of State , “Detailed Results 2006 General Election For Governor”
  29. US Election Atlas, “2008 Gubernatorial General Election Results - Vermont”
  30. Vermont Office of the Secretary of State , “Detailed Results 2008 General Election For Governor”
  31. Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections', accessed July 28, 2010