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March 28, 2012

Shumlin Running For Democratic Governors Association Chairman — And Maybe For Reelection?

ShumWhile Gov. Peter Shumlin hasn’t yet announced whether he’s running for reelection, he apparently has his eye on a D.C. post that would require him to win a second term as governor.

Shumlin told Politico on Wednesday he is seeking to succeed Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, the Washington-based political organization charged with electing Dems to statehouses across the country.

Shumlin aide Alex MacLean confirmed later in the day that the guv is formally in the running — at least, for chairman.

“The governor would be honored to be elected chairman of an organization that works to elect Democratic governors who are growing jobs and working on economic prosperity across the country,” she said.

Asked whether that means Shumlin is, in fact, seeking reelection as governor, MacLean’s cellphone — she was driving home to the Northeast Kingdom — crackled and went dead.

The DGA plays a key role in providing financial, strategic and messaging support for Democratic candidates. It has also served as a springboard for state politicos with an eye on higher office. Notable former chairs include Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, former presidential candidate Bill Richardson, former president Bill Clinton and, of course, Vermont’s own Howard Dean.

While Politico writes that Shumlin “isn’t considered vulnerable” in his as-yet-unannounced bid for a second term as governor, one candidate who has entered the race — Sen. Randy Brock (R-Franklin) — says Shumlin may be getting ahead of himself.

“My understanding is he’s not an announced candidate for governor at this point,” Brock says. “I would think that looking to be chair of the Democratic Governors Association when you haven’t completed your first term as governor would be somewhat unusual.”

Shumlin tells Politico, “I’m a person who the more balls in the air you throw me, I like keeping the balls in the air.”

But Brock says Shumlin should stay focused on his day job.

“Clearly I think the governor’s mind ought to be on the kind of issues we’re facing in Vermont,” he says. “I just find it very unusual that one would be, in his first term as governor, effectively seeking a national position when there’s so much that needs to be done in Vermont that really takes 100 percent of a governor’s time, energy and focus.”

Noting that the DGA won’t select its next chairman until December, Politico calls Shumlin’s preemptive announcement — he’s the first to enter the race — “an early and aggressive marker.” Other candidates mentioned in the piece include Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy.

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