Former Vermont Gov. Douglas ‘highly unlikely’ to challenge Sen. Sanders

Barring unforeseen circumstances, Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders appears likely to cruise to re-election in 2012.

Former Vermont Republican Gov. Jim Douglas, who left office in January, tells The Daily Caller that it is “highly unlikely” that he would challenge Sanders in 2012.

Douglas was elected to four two-year terms as governor and would have been the Republican candidate with the best chance of unseating Sanders, according to polling.

A Public Policy Polling poll released earlier this month found that Douglas remains very popular in Vermont. The poll also found that he would trail Sanders by 18 points, a smaller margin than other possible Republican candidates.

“I’d be in divorce court!” Douglas said of a possible candidacy, explaining that Vermont voters have “never unseated a U.S. Senator in the state’s history.”

Douglas currently teaches at Middlebury College and says, “I’m enjoying my new life in academia, business and grandfatherhood.” He added, “I think nearly four decades in politics was enough.”

Without a strong Republican challenger, Sanders’ only vulnerability would be a Democratic challenge. Douglas believes that such a scenario would be equally unlikely, even though Sanders is openly encouraging a primary challenge to President Obama.

“Bernie won the Dem. nomination last time and then declined it to maintain his ‘independent’ status,” Douglas said. “[Vermont] has become a very liberal state and his popularity remains high.”

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  • sjangers

    Bernie is a first-rate nut, not much doubt about that,
    Dopydem.  He originally appeared here in
    Vermont in the early 1970s, wandering around the state, talking to anyone who
    would listen, and blaming most of society’s ills on “da Chase Manhattan Bank”
    with the insane fervor of a Larouchie ‘exposing’ the queen mum’s involvement in
    an international drug conspiracy.  But he
    happened to be in the right place at the right time (i.e., Burlington mayoral
    race in 1981, with several mainstream candidates cancelling out each other’s
    votes) and got elected to a prominent position.  At that time Burlington was going through a
    period of strong economic growth and Mayor Bernie managed to avoid screwing
    anything up while at the same time he was playing to a growing anti-Reagan
    movement developing in the state. It made him a marketable statewide brand and started
    him on his way to bigger and better things.

    Happenstance and the Left were responsible for Bernie’s
    first major success in Vermont politics, but it was the Far Right that opened
    the door to Washington for him.  Upset
    with freshman (and moderate) Republican Congressman Peter Smith’s support for a
    bill that placed some additional limits on gun ownership, a bunch of far-right
    loonies threw their support behind Bernie’s bid to unseat Smith in 1990.  Blinded by their hatred for Smith, and
    temporarily forgetting just how rarely Vermont voters unseat incumbents (Smith
    is the only one who failed to be re-elected governor, US Representative or
    Senator in my lifetime), these right wing wacks decided to teach Peter a lesson
    for opposing them on their issue.  They
    put together a decent statewide organization that, along with Sanders’ own machine,
    propelled Hizzoner to victory.  Then they
    spent the next six or eight years trying to defend the indefensible, insisting that
    Bernie wasn’t such a bad Congressman.  By
    the late Nineties, Sanders was feeling pretty secure in office and no longer eschewed
    anti-Second Amendment positions.

    Interestingly enough, Bernie’s ascension to the Senate also
    had at least a little indirect assistance from the Far Right.  At the start of George W. Bush’s presidency, Trent
    Lott, et al, in the Senate, feeling their majority (and their oats, no doubt),
    decided to try to bring moderate Republican Senators into line with their
    conservative agenda.  They put a lot of
    heavy-handed pressure to bear on several liberal and moderate Republicans,
    including Vermont’s Jim Jeffords.  Faced with
    a choice between bowing to the demands of the High Priests or continuing to
    make a reasonable effort to represent his increasingly-liberal constituency,
    Jeffords reluctantly left the Republican Party. (Are we starting to see a pattern
    here?  Right Wing nuts, intent on their
    way or the highway, shooting themselves in the foot again.)  When he decided to retire in 2006 (a decision
    brought on by his wife’s deteriorating health, his own health issues, and, no
    doubt, frustration over the unpleasantness of trying to work with so many
    uncooperative colleagues) the door was left open for Sanders to move a step
    higher.  Jeffords’ forced departure from
    the Republican Party made moot any possibility of a cooperative transition; one
    that might have seen someone like then-Governor Jim Douglas (or another
    moderate with statewide strength) appointed to fill out an expiring term in
    2004 or 2008.  Without a strong
    Republican candidate to oppose him, Congressman Bernie became Senator Bernie
    after the 2006 election.

    So now Vermont, and the rest of the country, is stuck with
    Sen. Bernie Sanders.  And there’s no way
    he’s going to leave any time soon.  Vermonter’s
    aren’t likely to vote him out of office unless he does something completely
    lunatic.  And Bernie isn’t going to leave
    office voluntarily unless he sees himself with a decent opportunity to get
    elected President or God.  He’s just that
    kind of ‘dedicated’ public servant.

  • Dopydem

    First Howard Dean and then Bernie Sanders.  That states voters are a bunch of wacko’s.  Just listen to Sanders bellow on MSNBC and you know how wacked out that clown is.  And the voters of Vermont keep reelecting him. They all need a to be taken to the loony farm.