Jim Douglas: Guest Blog (from The Vermont Way)

[From the 2002 campaign] Jason Gibbs, my communications director, drove me around most of the time in the home stretch. I was lucky to have a stable of twenty-something’s on my team. I don’t know if they kept me young, but they kept me going! Jason bur0829douglashistoryc1navigated in my 2000 Dodge Neon, which became a symbol of my frugality. It had no air conditioning or power-anything. It was fuel-efficient and lasted until 2011, when at 143,000 miles with a lot of rust and many strange, troubling noises, I traded it in.

We scheduled a lot of ‘sign waves;’ that’s where a group of supporters, sometimes with the candidate, stand at a busy intersection with a campaign banner and wave wildly to the passing traffic, with the hope of eliciting a response, either a wave or a honk. It’s hard to measure the efficacy of any single activity, but I think these events serve to get the candidate’s name before the public and to demonstrate momentum. When I was waving to traffic in a downpour or blizzard, I always wondered if motorists would be more inclined to vote for me because I’m so dedicated to the cause that I’m there in such terrible weather or less likely to support me because they think I’m not smart enough to go inside.

Obama-moving-sofa_1394472iEach year at the State Dinner the President offers a toast to the nation’s governors and the chairman of NGA reciprocates with a toast to the President and the country. In 2010 that duty fell to me. The President went to the podium and fulfilled his responsibility, after which he proclaimed, “Let’s eat!” His staff nervously reminded him that I was standing off to the side and was prepared to offer my toast. “Oh, wait a minute!” he said, quieting the crowd just as the guests had begun to chatter among themselves. “This isn’t the waiter,” he said, looking at me in my tuxedo. “This is Governor Douglas, who’d like to offer a toast.” I did and we enjoyed a nice meal. President Obama got some grief for relying more heavily than his predecessors on a teleprompter from which he delivered speeches. In fact, some wags began to refer to the Teleprompter of the United States, or TOTUS. That evening he didn’t use one, but the text of his toast was taped to the podium. Mine was offered without notes.


Jim Douglas was first elected to the Vermont House in 1972, just months after graduating from Middlebury College. In 1994, Douglas became State Treasurer and was re-elected three times. In 2002, he was elected to the first of four terms as Vermont’s 80th Governor.

The Vermont Way is published by Common Ground, New Haven Vermont. For more information http://www.thevermontway.us/

To write a guest blog for the Center for Research on Vermont contact Center Director, Richard Watts at rwatts@uvm.edu.

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