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From 2003 to 2006, Shumlin returned to the Shumlin family business, Putney Student Travel, an educational firm that allows students in middle and high school to travel to foreign countries, learn about different cultures, and prepare for college.
Return to the Vermont Senate
In 2006, Shumlin ran successfully for his old seat in the State Senate upon the retirement of Rod Gander, who served from 2003 to 2007. Upon his return, Shumlin was once again elected President Pro Tempore.
Governor of Vermont
Vermont and New Hampshire are the only U.S. states whose governors do not serve four-year terms; rather, their governors are elected every two years, always in even-numbered years.
Shumlin in 2010
On November 16, 2009, Shumlin announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Vermont. Shumlin placed first in the five-way August 24, 2010 Democratic primary with 18,276 votes (24.48%). The close election saw three other candidates come within 3,000 votes of Shumlin. Former Lieutenant Governor Doug Racine came in second with 18,079 votes (24.22%), Secretary of State of VermontDeborah Markowitz came in third with 17,579 votes (23.9%) and former State Senator Matt Dunne was fourth with 15,323 votes (20.8%). State Senator Susan Bartlett came in a distant fifth with 3,759 votes (5.1%). Racine requested a recount, which confirmed Shumlin as the winner.
Shumlin was not opposed by a Progressive candidate for governor. The Party had promised not to play a "spoiler" role in the election if he supported single-payer health care, which he did. Vermont Progressive Party Chair Martha Abbott won the primary election, then withdrew from the race, so the party did not have a candidate on the ballot.
In the general election on November 2, 2010, Shumlin received the most votes, 119,543 (49.44%) to RepublicanBrian Dubie's 115,212 (47.69%). Vermont requires candidates for Governor and some other statewide offices to obtain a majority of popular votes, otherwise the winner is chosen by the Vermont General Assembly. Dubie did not contest the vote in the General Assembly, which almost always chooses the candidate who obtained a plurality in the general election, and on January 6, 2011, the General Assembly elected Shumlin by 145 votes (80.6%) to 28 (15.6%).
Summary of term
After Shumlin's election in 2010, all of his primary opponents except Dunne subsequently joined his administration. Racine became Secretary of Human Services, Markowitz became Secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources and Bartlett became Shumlin's Special Assistant, with responsibility for oversight of education and other policy initiatives.
The defining event of Shumlin's first term was Tropical Storm Irene, which caused almost every river and stream in the state to flood, resulting in at least three deaths and one missing. The storm decimated multiple sections of U.S. Route 4 between Rutland and Quechee, making east/west travel through the southern part of state nearly impossible. Several towns were completely isolated from travel in and out for two weeks. Statewide, the cost of repairs for road and bridge damage alone was estimated to exceed $700 million. This required a substantial re-assessment of Vermont's budget.
Flood waters from Tropical Storm Irene on the Ottauquechee River in Quechee, Vermont.
Flood waters on the Ottauquechee River in Quechee scouring the approach to the covered bridge, opposite side.
Damage caused by flood waters to the Quechee covered bridge on the northern shore of the river.
Damage caused by flood waters on the Ottauquechee River to the Taftsville bridge.
Damage caused by flood waters on the Ottauquechee River to the Royalton, Vermont bridge.
April 26: Shumlin appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show via telephone where he discussed health care reform in his state, his belief in health care for all and that "health care is a right, not a privilege".
May 26: Shumlin signed a bill to establish a state health care exchange under the Affordable Care Act and to develop future universal insurance coverage for all residents, making Vermont the first state to initiate a plan for single-payer health care.
August 17: Shumlin became the first sitting governor in the United States to preside over a same-sex wedding ceremony.
August 27: Shumlin declared a state of emergency, in preparation for the arrival of Tropical Storm Irene. In a joint statement, Vermont electric utilities announced that they planned to have extra staff on hand. The National Weather Service had forecast between 2-7 inches (51-178 mm) of rain in the state, with the risk of flooding near streams and rivers and an anticipated sustained wind speeds of 30-45 miles per hour (48-72 km/h) and gusts of up to 45-65 miles per hour (72-105 km/h), with expected significant tree damage and damage to power lines.
January 5: In his State of the State Address, Shumlin touted Vermont's policies to promote job growth, claiming a 62% increase over the previous year to bring the state's unemployment rate down to 5.3% from a recession peak of 7.3%--both cited as low numbers in his speech.
April 11: Shumlin was almost mauled by bears when he attempted to chase them away from raiding bird feeders on his property. Shumlin joked that Vermont "almost lost the governor," and added that he was within "three feet of getting 'arrrh."
May 16: Shumlin signed a bill banning hydraulic fracturing ("fracking"), the breaking of underground rock formations by using pressurized chemical-laced fluid in order to access natural gas deposits. The bill made Vermont the first state to pass such a ban, and was signed in front of group of high school students who pushed for it.
The 2012 election took place on November 6, 2012. Shumlin, who again was endorsed by organized labor and the major environmental organizations, was unopposed in the Democratic primary and easily won re-election, defeating Republican Randy Brock by 170,767 votes (58%) to 110,953 votes (37.7%).
Summary of term
Shumlin has been an opponent of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant. His administration advocated its closure. However, on January 19, 2012, Judge J. Garvan Murtha of United States District Court in Brattleboro ruled that the state of Vermont could not force Vermont Yankee to close down, as the legislation that attempted to do so was based on radiological safety arguments that are the exclusive concern of the NRC. The judge also held that the state cannot force the plant's owner, Entergy, to sell electricity from the reactor to in-state utilities at reduced rates as a condition of continued operation. However, on August 27, 2013, Entergy announced in a press release that it would close Vermont Yankee by the end of 2014.
Shumlin has also been an advocate of single-payer health care. In 2011, the Vermont Legislature created a single-payer plan, called Green Mountain Care, which caused Vermont to become the first state to explore this concept. While the bill also allows private insurers to operate in the state indefinitely As of January 2014, Shumlin remained committed to full implementation of single-payer health care, starting in 2017. In the interim, Vermont has been a willing participant in the Affordable Care Act. As was the case with the federal health-exchange website, Vermont's website, VermontHealthConnect.gov, also experienced difficulties as the deadline for implementation approached in late 2013; it was the product of the same software vendor.
In his January 2014 State of the State Address, Shumlin emphasized a single theme: the rise of opiate addiction in Vermont. He framed the challenge of opiate abuse as greater in scope than the recovery from Tropical Storm Irene. He offered a four-point plan to address opiate growth:
Fund more treatment to shorten wait-times for those willing to accept help.
Allow drug offenders to quickly enter treatment programs when they are ready to change their behavior, bypassing the normal judicial process to allow rapid treatment.
Tougher punishments for drug-runners and armed burglars.
January 10: Shumlin gave a State of the State Address that emphasized improving education from kindergarten through college in Vermont in order to make the Vermont labor force more appealing to prospective employers.
May 22: Shumlin signed a bill making physician assisted suicide legal throughout Vermont.
June 6: Vermont became the 17th state to decriminalize cannabis. Shumlin signed a bill that made possession of less than an ounce of the drug punishable by a small fine rather than arrest and possible jail time.
December 9: He was re-elected in December 2013 to be chair of the Democratic Governors Association for the year, 2014.
January 8: Shumlin gave a State of the State Address with a single theme--the rising rate of opiate abuse in Vermont.
January 15: A Shumlin administration official, Mark Larson, announced that the Vermont Health Connect website implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act was unavailable to small businesses enrollments, requiring direct enrollments with insurance companies until further notice.
Shumlin was the Democratic nominee for a third term. Republicans nominated businessman Scott Milne, whose mother Marion Carson Milne served in the Vermont House of Representatives, and father Donald was the longtime Assistant Clerk and Clerk of the Vermont House.
In the November 4 election, Shumlin took 46.4% to Milne's 45.1%, with Libertarian nominee Dan Feliciano taking 4.36%. The rest of the votes were scattered among other minor candidates. The Constitution of Vermont requires that the 180-member Vermont General Assembly choose the winner when no candidate receives over 50% of the popular vote. On January 8, 2015, the Assembly chose Shumlin over Milne by 110 votes to 69.
On June 8, 2015, Shumlin announced he would not seek a fourth term in 2016.
In contrast to other governors, who stated that they would attempt to turn away refugees fleeing the violence of the Syrian Civil War, Shumlin stated that Vermont would continue to welcome refugees. Shumlin said that the screening process weeded out people "who should not be accepted" and criticized governors who attempted to stop relocation, saying: "The governors who are taking those actions are stomping on the qualities that make America great, which is reaching out to folks when they're in trouble and offering them help, not hurting them."
In his final State of the State Address on January 7, 2016, Shumlin announced his support for the legalization of the consumption and sale of cannabis in the state of Vermont.
During his term in office, Shumlin issued a total of 208 pardons, the most of any Vermont governor. Most of these were issued in January 2017, when Shumlin (in one of his final official acts as governor) granted a pardon to 192 people convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession in Vermont. In the previous month, Shumlin had extended an offer for people with marijuana possession convictions to apply for a pardon, and about 450 had applied. The pardons were extended only "to people who had no violent criminal histories or felony convictions, and who had not been found guilty of driving under the influence or reckless driving."
Shumlin is adamantly pro-choice, and drew a contrast between himself and his 2010 Republican gubernatorial opponent Brian Dubie, who would not answer the question of whether or not he would cut funding for low-income abortions when pressed by Shumlin during the two candidates' televised debates. Shumlin held a pro-choice rally two days prior to the election, prompting his opponent to host a pro-jobs rally on the same day to draw a contrast between the two candidates' priorities.
In 2011, Shumlin expressed his support for "Team Kale" in its trademark dispute with fast food restaurant Chick-fil-A and said it sends the message "Don't mess with Vermont."
On May 8, 2015, Shumlin signed a genetically modified food (GMO) labeling bill. The legislation would mean that some products that are sold within the state of Vermont must have labeling that says that the product "may be partially produced with genetic engineering."
Shumlin was married to Deborah Holway from 1989 to 2013; they have two daughters together.
In September 2015, Shumlin announced his engagement to girlfriend Kate Hunt. They married in December 2015 in a ceremony at their East Montpelier home.
Real estate controversy
In May 2013, Shumlin was involved in a real estate transaction, which generated controversy. A neighbor, who owned a house and land adjacent to Shumlin's East Montpelier home, owed back taxes and risked losing the property in a tax sale, asked Shumlin to consider buying the property. Shumlin bought the property, had the assessed value reduced because the house was in disrepair, paid the back taxes, paid the neighbor's back child support, and allowed the neighbor to continue living in the house for several months. The neighbor then had second thoughts about the transaction. After some criticism in the press, Shumlin agreed to let the neighbor repurchase the property.
Vermont House of Representatives Windham 1 District election, 1990
David Hannum, Jr.
Nancy Egan Sternbach
Vermont State Senate Windham District election, 1992
Vermont State Senate Windham District election, 1994
Peter Shumlin (incumbent)
Vermont State Senate Windham District election, 1996
Nancy Chard (incumbent)
Peter Shumlin (incumbent)
Vermont State Senate Windham District election, 1998
Nancy Chard (incumbent)
Peter Shumlin (incumbent)
Vermont State Senate Windham District election, 2000
Peter Shumlin (incumbent)
Nancy Chard (incumbent)
Vermont Lieutenant Governor election, 2002
Sally Ann Jones
Vermont State Senate Windham District election, 2006
Vermont State Senate Windham District election, 2008
^He vowed to sign a GMO labeling bill on May 8, saying on Twitter that residents deserve to know what's in their food. The legislation will require certain products sold in the state to note that they "may be partially produced with genetic engineering."