Jim Douglas

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For the guitarist, see Jim Douglas (guitarist).
Jim Douglas
Jim Douglas-2009.jpg
80th Governor of Vermont
In office
January 9, 2003 – January 6, 2011
Lieutenant Brian Dubie
Preceded by Howard Dean
Succeeded by Peter Shumlin
28th Vermont State Treasurer
In office
January 5, 1995 – January 9, 2003
Preceded by Paul Ruse
Succeeded by Jeb Spaulding
34th Secretary of State of Vermont
In office
January 8, 1981 – January 7, 1993
Preceded by James Guest
Succeeded by Donald Hooper
Personal details
Born James Holley Douglas
(1951-06-21) June 21, 1951 (age 64)
Springfield, Massachusetts, United States
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Dorothy Foster
Alma mater Middlebury College
Religion United Church of Christ

James Holley "Jim" Douglas (born June 21, 1951) is an American politician from the U.S. state of Vermont. A Republican, he was elected the 80th Governor of Vermont in 2002 and was reelected three times with a majority of the vote. On August 27, 2009, Douglas announced that he would not seek re-election for a fifth term in 2010. He left the office in January 2011.

On January 3, 2011, Douglas became an executive in residence at Middlebury College[1] where he taught a 24 student course titled Vermont Government and Politics.[2] Douglas is the interim director of the Vermont Historical Society. [3]

Early career[edit]

Douglas was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. In 1968, he graduated from East Longmeadow High School, East Longmeadow, Massachusetts. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont, where he had been active in the College Republicans, eventually becoming chairman.[4] At Middlebury College, Douglas was a Russian Studies major. Vermont maintains a sister-state relationship with Karelia, Russia, though this relationship was started in 1991 under the governorship of Madeline Kunin.[5]

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 Vermont State Treasurer, after receiving the endorsement of both major parties.

Governor of Vermont[edit]

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.[6] After the Vermont Human Rights Commission recommended that Governor Douglas veto a similar bill in 2006,[7] Douglas worked with legislators to craft a new bill in 2007. This bill passed both chambers of the legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support.[8]

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 won a fourth term with nearly 54% of the vote. Although that was his lowest percentage since his initial narrow victory over Doug Racine, he bested his closest challenge, Pollina, by 32%.

Douglas became the first governor to meet with President Barack Obama in the White House on February 2, 2009.[9] He also served as Chairman of the National Governors Association from 2009 to 2010.

On April 6, 2009 Douglas vetoed the bill allowing marriage for same-sex couples in Vermont. Democrats in the Vermont House and Senate, overrode the veto with Supermajority the next day, marking the first time Douglas had been overridden during his tenure.[10]

On June 2, 2009, Democrats in the Vermont House and Senate voted to override Douglas's veto of the Vermont state budget.[11]

On August 27, 2009, Douglas announced that he would not seek re-election in 2010.[12]

In early 2010, Douglas became the first American political leader to be appointed to the National Order of Quebec, receiving the insignia of an Officer of the order from Premier Jean Charest at a ceremony at the Quebec legislature. He was recognized for strengthening Vermont's historical bonds with Quebec and making improved relations with the province a priority of his governorship.[13]

Douglas remains popular among Vermonters. As of June 17, 2010 his approval rating stood at 65 percent.[14]

Cabinet and administration[edit]

The Douglas Cabinet
Governor Jim Douglas 2003–2011
Lt. Governor Brian Dubie 2003–2011
Secretary of Administration Michael K. Smith
Charles Plympton Smith
Michael K. Smith
Neale F. Lunderville
Secretary of Commerce & Community Development Kevin Dorn 2003–2011
Secretary of Natural Resources Elizabeth "Wibs" McLain
Thomas Torti
George Crombie
Jonathan Wood
Secretary of Agriculture Steve Kerr
Roger Allbee
Secretary of Human Services Charles Plympton Smith
Michael K. Smith
Cynthia LaWare
Robert Hofmann
Secretary of Transportation Patricia MacDonald
Dawn Terrill
Neale F. Lunderville
David Dill
Commissioner of Labor Michael Bertrand
Patricia MacDonald
Patricia Moulton Powden
Commissioner of Public Service David O'Brien 2003–2011
Commissioner of Public Safety Kerry Sleeper
Thomas Tremblay
Commissioner of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration John Crowley
Paulette Thabault
Michael Bertrand
Chief Recovery Officer Tom Evslin 2009–2010

Post-gubernatorial career[edit]

Douglas was succeeded as Governor by Democrat Peter Shumlin.

After leaving office Douglas became an Executive in Residence at Middlebury College and authored a memoir, which will be published in late 2012.[15] On July 29, 2015, Douglas was named the interim director of the Vermont Historical Society. [16]

Electoral history[edit]

Vermont Gubernatorial Election 2008
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Jim Douglas (incumbent) 170,492 53.43
Independent Anthony Pollina 69,791 21.87
Democratic Gaye Symington 69,534 21.79
Vermont Gubernatorial Election 2006
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Jim Douglas (incumbent) 148,014 56.38
Democratic Scudder Parker 108,090 41.17
Vermont Gubernatorial Election 2004
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Jim Douglas (incumbent) 181,540 58.70
Democratic Peter Clavelle 117,327 37.93
Vermont Gubernatorial Election 2002
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Jim Douglas 103,436 44.94
Democratic Doug Racine 97,565 42.39
Independent Cornelius Hogan 22,353 9.71
Vermont U.S. Senate Election 1992
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Patrick Leahy (incumbent) 154,762 54.16
Republican Jim Douglas 123,854 43.35


  1. ^ Middlebury.edu
  2. ^ Middlebury.edu
  3. ^ Former Gov. Douglas interim director of historical society, WCAX, Jul. 29, 2015 [1]
  4. ^ Heintz, Paul (September 3, 2014). "Former Gov. Jim Douglas Dishes on Politics, Press in Memoir". Seven Days. Retrieved May 12, 2015. 
  5. ^ Executive Order No. 100-91 ("Vermont-Karelia Sister-State Relationship") (January 7, 1991). The text of this Executive Order is available on leg.state.vt.us.
  6. ^ Vermont Governor Signs Non-Discrimination Bill Into Law, available at [2]
  7. ^ Gov. Douglas vetoes gender discrimination bill, Times Argus, May 18, 2006 [3]
  8. ^ Acts and Resolves of the 2007–2008 session of the Vermont General Assembly, Act 41 (S.51). The text of this act is available on leg.state.vt.us
  9. ^ "Douglas Meets with President Obama," WCAX [4]
  10. ^ Vermont Legislature Legalizes Gay Marriage, WMUR [5]
  11. ^ "Vermont House, Senate Override Douglas Veto," WPTZ (June 2, 2009) [6]
  12. ^ "Douglas Will Not Seek Re-Election," WCAX (August 27, 2009) [7]
  13. ^ Communiques.gov.qc.ca "Ordre national du Québec – The Premier honours the Governor of the State of Vermont" (March 11, 2010)
  14. ^ Rasmussenreports.com Rasmussen Reports "Toplines 2010 Vermont Governor" (June 17, 2010)
  15. ^ John Flowers, Gov. Douglas pens autobiography, Addison Independent, May 24, 2012
  16. ^ Former Gov. Douglas interim director of historical society, WCAX, Jul. 29, 2015 [8]

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
James Guest
Secretary of State of Vermont
Succeeded by
Donald Hooper
Preceded by
Paul Ruse
Vermont State Treasurer
Succeeded by
Jeb Spaulding
Preceded by
Howard Dean
Governor of Vermont
Succeeded by
Peter Shumlin
Preceded by
Ed Rendell
Chairperson of National Governors Association
Succeeded by
Joe Manchin