A day after decisively defeating his Republican opponent, Gov. Peter Shumlin took to a South Burlington factory floor Wednesday afternoon to thank Vermonters for electing him to a second two-year term.
"It's a real privilege," Shumlin said. "It's humbling to get the kind of results we did last night."
Surrounded by dozens of workers on break, Shumlin said he chose to bring his victory tour to Dynapower Corp., because it's just the sort of growing business he believes it's his job to support.
"I really came to say thank you to Vermonters," he said.
Shumlin's remarks followed a big night for a governor whose last two electoral victories — in the 2010 primary and general elections — were nail-biters to the end. This time, he routed Sen. Randy Brock (R-Franklin), winning 58 percent to Brock's 37.
Despite his formidable cash advantage — much of which he ended up keeping in the bank — Shumlin characterized Tuesday's results as a win for truth over money and "grassroots citizens' democracy" over "outside political consultants."
"Listen, what Vermonters did yesterday was separate the political junk from the truth and reward and elect Vermonters from all parties who they were convinced were actually going to work for them," Shumlin said. "They didn't buy the big money. They didn't buy the distortions. They looked at the record. They listened to the vision of Vermont and they chose those elected officials who they thought would best continue the momentum that we have begun."
The governor also looked beyond the Green Mountains in his remarks, hailing President Obama's reelection and the outcome of referenda in three states — Maryland, Maine and Washington — legalizing same-sex marriage.
"Voters overwhelmingly chose civil rights over hate and said, 'Love who you wish to love.' That's a big deal," he said. "That's the first time that's happened where it's taken to a ballot where the majority of people say, 'Live and let live. We're not going to stand in your way.' I'm proud of America for that evolution."
He added, "It was a big night for civil rights last night."
Shumlin also pointed to an area in which Vermont lags behind its neighbor to the east. Noting that New Hampshire has now elected women to all its top offices, from governor to its congressional delegation, Shumlin said it was time for Vermont to catch up.
"We've got some work to do. Vermont has yet to send a woman to Congress," he said. "We don't want New Hampshire beating us in any way, shape or form. So we've got more work to do."
That remark drew perhaps the weirdest question posed by a member of the Vermont press corps in recent memory.
"You're saying that Vermont's got work to do to catch up to New Hampshire in electing women," Associated Press reporter Dave Gram began. "Are you contemplating a sex change operation?"
"I don't think... There's a lot of things I qualify for, but I don't think a sex change is one of them," the governor responded.