Olsen out in 2012

A junior Republican known for bringing some intellectual firepower to the House minority caucus announced in a letter to constituents today that he won’t seek reelection in 2012.

Oliver Olsen, appointed by Gov. James Douglas in 2010 to replace the seat opened up by the death of Rick Hube, said the “profound impact” of Tropical Storm Irene has shifted his priorities.

Olsen’s five-town district was among the worst-hit regions of the state.

“Given the magnitude of issues facing us, and the increased demands on my time, I simply cannot commit to an election next year or another term in office,” Olsen wrote. “So, after a great deal of soul-searching and careful consideration, I have decided that I will not seek re-election in 2012.”

Olsen has been something of a thorn in the side of the Shumlin administration, firing off critical missives to the governor and CCing members of the press. He isn’t formally a member of the minority’s leadership team, but since Irene hit, Olsen has raised a number of issues that later became Republican talking points.

He was the first to publicly call for the freezing of VHCB appropriations. He said he’ll continue to play the role of gadfly as the 2011 session nears.

“As a member of the Minority – some might say ‘Super-Minority’ – I also have a responsibility to ask the tough questions and hold the Governor's feet to the fire, as well as those of his legislative allies who control the legislative process,” Olsen wrote. “An effective Minority is critical to the health of any democratic process; by holding the Majority accountable, we end up with better outcomes from our government.”