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

Steven Nelson | Associate Editor

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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