For Shumlin, An Apologetic Victory Speech But No Concession From Milne

Nov 5, 2014

After a closer-than-expected race for governor, it appears Gov. Peter Shumlin will serve another term in the state’s highest office. But the contest had a rather odd finish.

Most close political races end with a phone call and two speeches. The losing candidate calls the victor with humbled congratulations, then addresses reporters and supporters. The victor’s speech often follows.

But Wednesday, after announcing he would not make a public appearance until all election results are in, Republican Scott Milne quietly slipped out of the Sheraton in South Burlington without addressing the press.

At a news conference in downtown Burlington Wednesday afternoon, Shumlin made something of a victory speech – though at times it sounded like more of an apology.

“I recognize that I have work to do to regain the confidence of many Vermonters,” he said.

"I recognize that I have work to do to regain the confidence of many Vermonters." - Gov. Peter Shumlin

The downbeat tone of the speech came after what Shumlin described as a disappointing margin of victory over Milne. Because no candidate got a majority of votes cast, the legislature must formally decide on a victor in January.

But that didn’t stop Shumlin from declaring victory.

“I’m extraordinarily fortunate to serve as Vermont’s governor, and fortunate to serve for another two years,” he said in the short speech.

Shumlin said one message he heard from voters is that even former supporters have turned against him for a variety of reasons, from the natural gas pipeline in Addison County to the failures of Vermont Health Connect.

In his remarks, the two-term governor wouldn’t even voice commitment on his single largest policy move: single-payer health care.

Shumlin's main message was gratitude to supporters and the need for political recalculation.

“In the coming weeks and months,” he said, “I will work with my team as well as legislators from all political parties to assess our upcoming legislative agenda to ensure that it reflects the will of the Vermont voters.”