Shumlin trying out for role on national stage

Less than two years into his new job,Vermont’s first-term governor has his sights set on a position of more national prominence.

As first reported in POLITICO, Peter Shumlin wants to take the reins at the Democratic Governors Association. We spoke with the governor this morning outside his ceremonial office in the Statehouse, and he confirmed that he is indeed seeking the DGA chairmanship.

He says he can use the position to galvanize support for issues including health care, job creation and economic development. With Congress shackled by “Tea Party Republicans,” Shumlin said, “we need governors who will take action on these important issues.”

“I would be excited to help generate some momentum on those issues, by serving as chairman of the DGA,” Shumlin said.

POLITICO had the scoop on Shumlin, who told the news outlet Wednesday that he’d like to succeed Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

“I am a candidate,” he said. “I am interested in chairing the DGA. I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with former chairman Jack Markell and current chair Martin O’Malley and we’ve been blessed with extraordinary leadership there. Gov. O’Malley has done a great job at keeping the DGA a force. I’d love to give back to an organization that’s given a lot to me.”

He does owe them. The DGA and its Vermont PAC, Green Mountain Future, invested $1.1 million helping Shumlin carry the hard-fought election in 2010.

The DGA customarily doesn’t elect its chair until December, and the POLITICO is characterizing Shumlin’s campaign for the job as “early and aggressive.”

Interesting tactic for a guy who says he won’t begin his reelection campaign for governor until Labor Day.

Given its small size,Vermont in recent years has wielded disproportionate influence over the governors associations. Howard Dean served as chairman of the DGA in 1997 and chairman of the National Governors Association in 1994 and 1995.

James Douglas chaired the NGA from 1999 to 2000 and headed the Republican Governors Association immediately prior.

Assuming he wins a second term, we’ll find out in December whether Shumlin can match his predecessors’ sway with gubernatorial colleagues.

According to POLITICO, Shumlin is the early favorite to win the gig.

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