Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: email@example.com
I've been wondering for a while which gubernatorial race beyond the big four (North Carolina, Indiana, Missouri and Washington) has the best chance to be competitive this year. Delaware is an open seat, but the Republicans are struggling to find a candidate. Montana is a red state, but Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer is popular. More and more, the answer seems to be Vermont.
Gov. Jim Douglas is a Republican in a state where John Kerry took 59% of the vote in 2004. That fact alone didn't make him vulnerable, but the candidacy of the Democratic House Speaker, Gaye Symington, might (she hasn't decided yet whether she's running).
Plus, Vermont's economy and the its budget are heading South, as the Rutland Herald reported today:
MONTPELIER -- It's not pretty. After weeks of wondering how much will have to be trimmed from next year's state budget, officials got word Tuesday it will be at least $24.5 million in General Fund spending alone.
"Let's use the word my profession has been afraid to use. It's a recession," said Jeff Carr, the economist who works with the administration of Gov. James Douglas, speaking to the state Emergency Board on Tuesday. That is the fiscal panel made up of the heads of the Legislature's four money committees and Douglas.
Still, if you've made a habit of betting against Jim Douglas, by now you've lost a lot of money. From the Associated Press:
Douglas, who was elected to the Vermont Legislature at 21, has used nonstop campaigning, shrewd political skills and the power of incumbency to fashion a 13-1 record in statewide elections. He's the state's all-time leading vote getter, which some believe is why Vermont Democrats have yet to field a challenger in the Nov. 4 election.
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