By Anne Galloway, VTDigger.org
The voters of Vermont sent a message to Gov. Peter Shumlin on Tuesday night, and the governor says he heard it “loud and clear.”
Shumlin called a news conference in Burlington on Wednesday afternoon, shortly after the Associated Press announced unofficial results in which he beat out Scott Milne, his Republican opponent, by a mere 2,033 votes. Milne has not yet conceded the race.
The vote difference is less than 2 percent, which means he could call for a recount.
The governor’s narrow victory is widely seen as a referendum on his tenure in office, as his political opponent, Milne, is a neophyte Republican challenger. Shumlin acknowledged in remarks to the media that the results represent a political defeat he must work to overcome. In a brief speech, Shumlin told reporters that he would recalibrate his agenda in order to address voters’ deep dissatisfaction with his performance.
“We have faced our share of setbacks in the past couple of years, and I know people are disappointed in how I have handled some issues,” Shumlin said. “I recognize I have work to do to regain the confidence of many Vermonters in the coming weeks and months. I will work with my team as well as legislators from all political parties to assess our coming legislative agenda to ensure that we are representing the will of Vermont voters.”
He said he went into the election with his “eyes wide open” and he said he “wasn’t surprised” by the results because he “listens every day to Vermonters.” His campaign conducted polls that “reflected that it’s a very tough time to run as an incumbent in Vermont.”
Shumlin said he was “personally humbled” by the election results, but he was also “proud that we won.”
“I’m disappointed that we didn’t receive a wider margin, but I’m grateful that we received the most votes passed,” Shumlin said. “I’m also proud of the fact that we ran a positive campaign that focused on the issues.”