Vermont gubernatorial election, 2014

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Vermont gubernatorial election, 2014
2012 ←
November 4, 2014 (2014-11-04) → 2016

  Peter Shumlin 2012.jpg No image.svg No image.svg
Nominee Peter Shumlin Scott Milne Dan Feliciano
Party Democratic Republican Libertarian
Popular vote 89,509 87,075 8,428
Percentage 46.36% 45.1% 4.36%

Vermont Governor Election Results by County, 2014.svg

County results

Governor before election

Peter Shumlin

Elected Governor


The 2014 Vermont gubernatorial election was held on November 4, 2014, to elect the Governor of Vermont, concurrently with elections to the United States Senate in other states and elections to the United States House of Representatives and various state and local elections.

Incumbent Democratic Governor Peter Shumlin ran for re-election to a third term in office against Republican businessman Scott Milne and several independent and minor-party challengers.

Although Shumlin won the most votes, he did not receive a majority. The Constitution of Vermont requires that the 180-member Vermont General Assembly choose the winner when no candidate receives over 50% of the popular vote.[1] It will do so in January 2015.


Four-term Republican Governor Jim Douglas did not run for re-election in 2010. In the race to succeed him, Democratic nominee Peter Shumlin, the President Pro Tempore of the Vermont Senate, received 49.5% of the vote while Republican nominee Lieutenant Governor Brian Dubie received 47.7%. As neither candidate received a majority, the General Assembly was required to pick the winner in January 2011. Dubie did not contest the vote; he conceded the race on election night and called for Vermont to "unite" around Shumlin.[2] Shumlin won the Assembly vote 145 to 28, with 7 legislators not voting.

Shumlin was re-elected in 2012 against Republican State Senator and former Vermont Auditor of Accounts Randy Brock by a landslide, 58% to 37.7%.

Vermont and New Hampshire are the only states in the country whose governors are elected every two years. An incumbent governor of Vermont has not been defeated for re-election since 1962, when Democrat Philip H. Hoff beat Republican F. Ray Keyser, Jr. by 1,315 votes.[3]

Democratic primary[edit]

Shumlin announced in December 2013 that he was running for re-election to a third term in office, but said that he would not begin campaigning until after Labor Day 2014, just two months before the election.[4] He faced one opponent in the Democratic primary, lifelong Republican and Washington, D.C. resident H. Brooke Paige, who simultaneously ran against Democratic incumbent William Sorrell in the Democratic primary election for Vermont Attorney General. He was also unsuccessful in that effort, losing by 80% to 20%.




Democratic primary results[8]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Peter Shumlin 15,260 76.96%
Democratic H. Brooke Paige 3,199 16.13%
Democratic Write-in 1,369 6.9%
Totals 19,828 100%

Republican primary[edit]

The Republicans initially struggled to recruit a candidate. Former Governor Douglas and Lieutenant Governor Phillip Scott announced early on that they would not run and it was not until March 2014 that a candidate entered the race: marijuana legalization activist and former Independent gubernatorial candidate Emily Peyton.[9] This spurred Republicans into attempting to recruit a serious candidate, but they struggled to do so.[9] Former Wall Street banker Bruce Lisman announced in May 2014 that he was not running, and attention turned to former State Senator and 2012 nominee Randy Brock, State Representative Heidi Scheuermann and businessman Scott Milne.[10]

In May, Scheuermann said that she would not run, leaving the party with a month until the June 12 filing deadline to find a candidate.[11] Milne, who was traveling in Africa, announced that he would decide shortly before the deadline.[11] Brock was urged to run and considered doing so,[12] but revealed on June 8 that he would not run.[13] On the morning of filing deadline day, Milne announced that he would run.[14] He was joined in the Republican primary by Peyton and retired marketer and self-described "modern-day Mark Twain" Steve Berry.[6] Also running but not appearing on the ballot was Dan Feliciano, who ran for the Libertarian nomination and as a write-in candidate for the Republican nomination.[15]



  • Steve Berry, retired marketer[6][16]
  • Dan Feliciano, businessman and Independent candidate for Governor in 2010 (write-in; also ran as a Libertarian)[15]
  • Scott Milne, businessman, candidate for the State House in 2006 and son of former State Legislators Don and Marion Milne[14]
  • Emily Peyton, Independent candidate for Governor in 2010 and 2012 (also ran as an independent)[9]



Republican primary results[8]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Scott Milne 11,486 71.74%
Republican Steve Berry 1,106 6.91%
Republican Emily Peyton 1,060 6.62%
Republican Write-in 2,358 14.73%
Totals 16,010 100%

Progressive primary[edit]

Members of the Vermont Progressive Party, which had not run a candidate against Shumlin in 2010 or 2012, openly discussed challenging him in 2014. Previously satisfied with his support for single-payer health care and his efforts to close Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant, they disapproved of his proposed cuts to social programs. But the party openly admitted that it lacked the money to run a gubernatorial campaign, and no candidate came forward to run.[20][21][22]




Progressive primary results[8]
Party Candidate Votes %
VT Progressive Write-in 114 100%

Liberty Union primary[edit]



  • Peter Diamondstone, party co-founder and perennial candidate[23]


Liberty Union primary results[8]
Party Candidate Votes %
Liberty Union Peter Diamondstone 133 89.26%
Liberty Union Write-in 16 10.74%
Totals 149 100%

Libertarian nomination[edit]



  • Dan Feliciano, businessman and Independent candidate for Governor in 2010 (also ran as a write-in in the Republican primary)[24]





  • Bruce Lisman, banker[10]

General election[edit]


Poll source Date(s)
Margin of
Shumlin (D)
Milne (R)
Peyton (I)
Other Undecided
CBS News/NYT/YouGov October 16–23, 2014 329 ± 8% 47% 35% 2% 2% 13%
CBS News/NYT/YouGov September 20–October 1, 2014 328 ± 6% 46% 29% 11% 2% 12%
CBS News/NYT/YouGov August 18–September 2, 2014 430 ± 6% 45% 35% 2% 3% 15%
Rasmussen Reports August 28–29, 2014 700 ± 4% 48% 36% 7% 9%
CBS News/NYT/YouGov July 5–24, 2014 512 ± ? 52% 27% 15% 0% 6%


2014 Vermont gubernatorial election[26]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Peter Shumlin 89,509 46.36%
Republican Scott Milne 87,075 45.1%
Libertarian Dan Feliciano 8,428 4.36%
Independent Emily Peyton 3,157 1.64%
Liberty Union Peter Diamondstone 1,673 0.87%
Independent Bernard Peters 1,434 0.74%
Independent Cris Ericson 1,089 0.56%
Independent Write-ins 722 0.37%
Totals 193,087 100%

Results by district[edit]

Of Vermont's 275 "polling places" that report results separately—corresponding to the state's 255 towns and cities, with some larger municipalities broken into multiple precincts—Milne won a plurality in 162 precincts, or 58.9%. Shumlin won 112, or 40.7% and they were tied in one other.[27] Shumlin won the state's biggest voting area, Burlington (representing 9,604 gubernatorial voters), by a margin of 66% to 23%. Of the state's 10 largest municipalities, Shumlin also won South Burlington, Bennington, Montpelier, Hartford and Middlebury. Milne won Essex, Colchester, Rutland City, Williston and Barre Town.[27] Of Vermont's 13 multi-member Senate districts, aligning roughly with the state's 14 counties, Milne won eight (61.5%) and Shumlin five (38.5%).[27] Milne won the popular vote in 53 House districts; Shumlin won in 51.[28]

General Assembly vote[edit]

As no candidate received a majority of the vote, the Vermont General Assembly will decide the election in a secret ballot in January 2015, choosing between the top three vote-getters, Shumlin, Milne and Feliciano. Since 1853, the General Assembly has selected the first-place finisher in every gubernatorial election that has come before it,[28] most recently in 2010, when Shumlin received 49.5% of the vote and was chosen over Republican Brian Dubie, and in 2002, when the Democratic-controlled legislature picked Republican Jim Douglas, who had received 44.9%, over Democrat Doug Racine, who received 42.4%.[29] The Assembly most recently reversed a plurality vote in the 1976 lieutenant gubernatorial election, when the Republican-controlled legislature picked Republican T. Garry Buckley rather than Democrat John Alden, who was suspected, and later convicted, of insurance fraud.[30][31][32]

Although the second-place finisher usually concedes the race, as happened in 2002 and 2010,[33][34] Milne has refused to concede. He considered requesting a recount, but did not do so, reasoning that it was "extremely unlikely, almost unfathomable, that a recount would put either candidate above the 50 percent mark."[35] Before the election, Milne said that if Shumlin won a plurality, he would support him and would expect Shumlin to do the same if the situation were reversed.[28] However, after the election he said, "it's clear that 54% of Vermonters want a new governor, and a new path forward."[35]

As 91 votes are needed to elect the Governor from the 180-member body and Democrats and Progressives hold 112 seats, it is considered unlikely that Milne will win.[36] Milne has argued that legislators should decide the election in line with how their individual districts voted.[37] Neal Goswami of the Vermont Press Bureau calculated that if each legislator voted according to the results in their district, the vote would result in a 90–90 tie.[28] Milne disagrees with this calculation and claims voting according to district outcome would result in his winning 93–87.[36]

Republican legislative leaders have said that they will not whip their members to vote for Shumlin, leaving them free to vote their consciences. Though Republican Lieutenant Governor Phillip Scott does not have a vote, he has said that he would vote for Shumlin, and Republican State Representative Kurt Wright has said that he will do so.[38] No Democrats have indicated that they will vote for Milne.[28] Indeed, several Democrats whose districts voted for Milne over Shumlin have said that they will vote for Shumlin, citing his plurality win.[28]

The fact is that fewer people voted for Scott Milne than voted for Peter Shumlin. Milne did not get a majority, either. I just don’t think he has a case to be made that a majority, or even a plurality of voters, want him to be governor. I don’t think that I will probably have to persuade [other legislators of this], quite frankly.

 — State House Speaker Shap Smith, whose district voted for Milne, explaining why he will vote for Shumlin.[28]
2014 Vermont gubernatorial election, Vermont General Assembly vote
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Peter Shumlin  %
Republican Scott Milne  %
Libertarian Dan Feliciano  %
Totals ' %


The result came as a shock to most observers, who had expected Shumlin to win easily.[39][40][41] RealClearPolitics rated the race "Likely Democratic" and The Cook Political Report, Daily Kos Elections, Governing, The Rothenberg Political Report and Sabato's Crystal Ball all rated the race "Safe Democratic".[42] RealClearPolitics reported an average lead in the polls of 15.2% for Shumlin[43] and HuffPost Pollster's model estimated Shumlin would beat Milne 51.1% to 37% with the probability that Shumlin would win the election at 95%.[44]

Analyzing the results, The Burlington Free Press pointed to Shumlin's relatively soft numbers in opinion polls – he was in the mid-40s in the last four polls of the race – as evidence that voters were dissatisfied with the progress the state had made in instituting single-payer health care, with rising property taxes, and with the bungled roll-out of Vermont Health Connect, the state's federal health care exchange.[45] Shumlin's internal polls showed a close race and he touted an endorsement from popular U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy to try and put him over 50%.[45] By comparison, Milne lagged in fundraising and spending, with over $1 million less than Shumlin, which meant that he could not even afford to pay for polling.[45]

The presence of Libertarian nominee Dan Feliciano on the ballot divided opinion, with Milne and former Republican Governor Jim Douglas saying that he split the anti-Shumlin vote. By contrast, the Free Press said that Feliciano was likely to have drawn many voters dissatisfied with Shumlin but who would not have otherwise have voted for Milne. Feliciano agreed with this assessment, saying that he was "not a spoiler".[45] Republicans wondered whether they should have done more to push Feliciano out, whether Milne should have run more strongly against single-payer, whether 2012 nominee and former State Auditor Randy Brock should have run again, and whether the state party should have been less focused on state legislative races.[45]

Analysis by political experts pointed to the record low voter turnout–around 43.6%–and the fact that 39,000 more people voted for Democratic Congressman Peter Welch than voted for Shumlin as a sign of dissatisfaction with Shumlin.[27] University of Vermont political science professor Garrison Nelson said that "the people who showed up are the angry ones" and that unlike Shumlin, "Welch demonstrated an appeal far beyond just the Democratic base."[46]

In a news conference on November 12, Shumlin stated that the result was "humbling" and said that he would "listen, learn, reflect [and] be more inclusive." He also pledged to move ahead with single-payer health care and to address school spending, property taxes and the $100m budget gap.[47]


  1. ^ "Close election recalls recent recounts". The Burlington Free Press. November 7, 2014. Retrieved November 11, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Dubie Asks Vermonters To Unite Around New Governor". Vermont Public Radio. November 3, 2010. Retrieved 3 August 2013. 
  3. ^ "VT Governor 1962". Retrieved 3 August 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Cashing In: Shumlin Dials for Dollars as He Seeks a Third Term". Seven Days. December 4, 2013. Retrieved December 9, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Paige begins two-pronged political battle". Rutland Herald. June 14, 2014. Retrieved November 14, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c "Modern-day Mark Twain joins governor race". Seven Days. June 19, 2014. Retrieved November 14, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Where can you run for two offices at once? Vermont, of course.". The Washington Post. August 26, 2014. Retrieved November 14, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c d "Unofficial Results - Primary Election - August 26, 2014". Vermont Secretary of State. Retrieved September 28, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b c d Nancy Remsen (March 7, 2014). "There’s a candidate running for governor as a Republican — but isn’t really from the party". The Burlington Free Press. Retrieved March 13, 2014. 
  10. ^ a b c Terri Hallenbeck (May 12, 2014). "Republican Milne considers run for governor". The Burlington Free Press. Retrieved May 13, 2014. 
  11. ^ a b c Terri Hallenbeck (May 13, 2014). "Scheuermann opts against run for governor". The Burlington Free Press. Retrieved May 13, 2014. 
  12. ^ Stewart Ledbetter (May 30, 2014). "Brock decision on 2014 run for governor imminent". WPTZ. Retrieved November 18, 2014. 
  13. ^ a b Brown, Tom. "Brock bows out of GOP race for governor, Milne ‘on the fence’". VTDigger. Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  14. ^ a b Peter Hirschfeld. "Republican Scott Milne Looks To Unseat Peter Shumlin". Vermont Public Radio. Retrieved 20 June 2014. 
  15. ^ a b Hallenbeck, Terri (August 23, 2014). "GOP to choose a governor candidate". The Burlington Free Press. Retrieved August 24, 2014. 
  16. ^ Kyle Midura (June 12, 2014). "GOP challenger to take on Gov. Peter Shumlin". WCAX. Retrieved July 23, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Jim Douglas, former governor, has ruled out run for statewide office". Kirk Carapezza. January 23, 2013. Retrieved November 11, 2014. 
  18. ^ Lisa McCormack (March 27, 2014). "Eyeing the top seat?". Stowe Today. Retrieved April 3, 2014. 
  19. ^ Kinzel, Bob (22 July 2013). "Lt. Gov. Scott Says It's Unlikely He'll Run For Governor". VPR. Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  20. ^ a b c "Should Progressives challenge Shumlin in 2014?". The Burlington Free Press. August 6, 2013. Retrieved November 18, 2014. 
  21. ^ a b "Progressives elect Mulvaney-Stanak chair, outline agenda". VTDigger. November 10, 2013. Retrieved November 18, 2014. 
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  23. ^ "Liberty Union Party still running without a win". The Burlington Free Press. June 15, 2014. Retrieved July 28, 2014. 
  24. ^ Hallenbeck, Terri (August 23, 2014). "GOP to choose a governor candidate". The Burlington Free Press. Retrieved August 24, 2014. 
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  26. ^ "Unofficial Results - General Election - November 4, 2014". Vermont Secretary of State. November 8, 2014. Retrieved November 11, 2014. 
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  28. ^ a b c d e f g "Plurality or politics?". Barre Montpelier Times Argus. November 10, 2014. Retrieved November 11, 2014. 
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  30. ^ "Close election recalls recent recounts". The Burlington Free Press. November 7, 2014. Retrieved November 13, 2014. 
  31. ^ "T. Garry Buckley". Barre Montpelier Times Argus. May 27, 2012. Retrieved November 13, 2014. 
  32. ^ "Wait, The Legislature Is Choosing The Governor?". Vermont Public Radio. November 6, 2014. Retrieved November 13, 2014. 
  33. ^ "Two candidates claim Alabama gubernatorial race". CNN. November 7, 2002. Retrieved November 13, 2014. 
  34. ^ "Vermont Election Results: Brian Dubie Concedes To Peter Shumlin In 2010 Governor's Race". The Huffington Post. November 3, 2010. Retrieved November 13, 2014. 
  35. ^ a b "Milne Won't Seek Recount, But May Ask Legislators To Elect Him Governor". WAMC. November 13, 2014. Retrieved November 14, 2014. 
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  37. ^ Laura Krantz (6 November 2014). "Milne exploring all options". VTDigger. Retrieved 13 November 2014. 
  38. ^ "Vermont: GOP says party will follow conscience on governor vote". The Berkshire Eagle. November 8, 2014. Retrieved November 11, 2014. 
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  40. ^ "Milne nearly topples Shumlin". Stowe Reporter. November 5, 2014. Retrieved November 13, 2014. 
  41. ^ "What the Hell Happened in Vermont?!". The Daily Beast. November 13, 2014. Retrieved November 13, 2014. 
  42. ^ United States gubernatorial elections, 2014#Safe seats
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  44. ^ "2014 Vermont Governor: Milne vs. Shumlin". October 27, 2014. Retrieved November 11, 2014. 
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  47. ^ "Shumlin committed to single payer, vows to listen, learn". VT Digger. November 12, 2014. Retrieved November 18, 2014. 

External links[edit]