Because no gubernatorial candidate received 50 percent of the vote, lawmakers will elect the next governor in a secret ballot on the first day of 2015 session.
Republican candidate Scott Milne says he might reach out to lawmakers to try to overturn Democrat Peter Shumlin’s narrow victory. But former GOP governor Jim Douglas thinks it’s a mistake for Milne to take this action.
According to unofficial statewide results, incumbent governor Peter Shumlin defeated Scott Milne by roughly 2,400 votes.
Because the margin of victory is less than 2 percent, state law allows Milne to request a recount and the deadline for that decision is 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Milne says it’s unlikely that he’ll seek a recount because the margin is too large. But he says he might try to convince individual lawmakers to vote for him. Douglas doesn’t think this is a good strategy for Milne.
“It would seem to me unlikely that that would be a useful strategy and perhaps he should consider what Doug Racine and others have done historically which is to acknowledge the result and come back and fight another day,” said Douglas.
In 2002, Racine lost to Douglas by about 5,800 votes but since neither candidate won a majority, the vote went to the Legislature. Racine told lawmakers to vote for Douglas because he was the top vote getter.
Douglas thinks that Milne has a bright future in the Republican Party and he’s concerned that Milne’s popularity could suffer if he wages a Legislative campaign.
“It would seem to me that the good will that he’s accrued during the last several days ought to be preserved,” said Douglas. “Scott has been well received by the people of Vermont he has offered an important message and alternative and I want to be sure that he’s available to offer that again.”
Milne was traveling on business in Maine on Monday. He said he has complete respect for Jim Douglas but added there are also people who don’t want him to give up.
“There’s an awful lot of people that don’t want me to drop out and they’re going to feel abandoned and might be less likely to be engaged in the future if we don’t handle this correctly,” said Milne. “So it’s a balancing act.”
Shumlin says the final decision rests with Milne, but he says he knows what he would do in a similar situation.
“I wouldn’t want to serve as governor if I didn’t have the most votes in the race,” Shumlin said.
The state canvassing committee will meet on Wednesday to review the final results of the election. Milne says he wants to study the results for several days before deciding if he’ll challenge Shumlin in the Legislature.