(Bloomberg Politics) — The 2014 election was a rough one for Democrats, and lying amid all that political debris, barely breathing, is Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin.
Last year, Shumlin was head of the Democratic Governors Association, which lost 24 of 36 races in November and that list came dangerously close to including his own seat. Shumlin is expected to prevail on Thursday, after being bailed out by the overwhelming Democratic majority in the state legislature — even that moment of triumph could be marred by some protest votes.
The legislature is intervening after the two-term incumbent failed to capture more than 50 percent of the votes in the November election, which is required by the state constitution. Shumlin took 46.4 percent of the vote compared with 45.1 percent for little-known Republican Scott Milne; five minor candidates shared the remainder of the vote.
The razor-tight finish of the Shumlin-Milne race alone was a political humiliation in left-leaning Vermont.
A bastion of liberal Yankee Republicanism until the 1960s, Vermont is now a Democratic stronghold: President Barack Obama won 67 percent of the Vermont vote in the 2012 election, his best showing among the 50 states except in his birth state of Hawaii.
It’s the home state of Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who’s thinking about running for president in 2016. Shumlin won a second term in 2012 with 58 percent of the vote.
The national Republican wave only partly explains the governor’s slide; other Democrats on the Vermont ballot in 2014 ran far ahead of him. Shumlin’s political struggles owe partly to big problems with the state-run health-care exchange.