Governor Peter Shumlin is set to increase his national political profile. Tuesday night, Shumlin was elected as the new Chair of the Democratic Governors Association.
Just a month after being elected to his second term as Governor of Vermont, Peter Shumlin has been tapped to lead his party’s national gubernatorial organization.
Shumlin was elected as the next Chair of the Democratic Governors Association at the group’s annual meeting in Los Angeles last night.
Shumlin says his election is way for him to collaborate with other governors on a number of key issues including health care.
"Listen it’s a huge help to us," said Shumlin. "We’re a small state with great ideas and not only is an organization like this get great information, build relationships that really make a difference to Vermont but also get ideas from other governors that are just tremendously helpful."
President Obama is calling on the nation’s governors to lobby Congress to support his plan to avoid the Fiscal Cliff – it’s one that calls for higher taxes on the wealthy and some cuts in Medicare and Medicaid. Shumlin says the DGA is ready to help the President.
"I look forward to this opportunity. There’s no question that presidents and governors face similar challenges and we’ve got to fix this challenge that he’s facing and Congress is facing and get results quickly or its going to cripple the economy," said Shumlin. "And it’s a huge blow to Vermont if they don’t get it right so I certainly hope to able to play an active role."
One of Shumlin’s chief jobs as DGA Chair is to help elect more Democratic governors in 2014 when 3 dozen gubernatorial races will take place. Retired Middlebury College political science professor Eric Davis says this experience could enhance Shumlin’s national profile.
"So by serving as chair of the DGA, Shumlin will get an opportunity to get to know some of these democratic governors who are seeking re-election and some of the new candidates who are seeking to be elected as Democratic governors next year," said Davis. "And this will be important people as the political cycle moves forward."
And Davis expects the nation’s governors to play a key role in the Congressional negotiations over a resolution to the Fiscal Cliff:
"There are many important programs that the Federal government provides ongoing assistance to state governments," said Davis. "And if those programs are cut in a very substantial amount whether its transportation, Medicaid, education any of a wide range of federal programs, that will have impacts on state budgets in terms of states possibly having to cut back or increases taxes which are things that governors don’t want to do."
Davis says Shumlin needs to be careful to keep a strong focus on Vermont political issues while he gets involved in some national policy debates.