Markowitz Won't Run for Governor | Off Message

Markowitz Won't Run for Governor


Secretary Deb Markowitz, left in red, at a Green Up Day press conference in April with Lt. Gov. Phil Scott. - FILE: PAUL HEINTZ
  • File: Paul Heintz
  • Secretary Deb Markowitz, left in red, at a Green Up Day press conference in April with Lt. Gov. Phil Scott.
Updated at 1:11 p.m.

One of the state's most prominent politicians says she won't run for governor in 2016. 

After Gov. Peter Shumlin announced Monday that he won't seek a fourth term, Natural Resources Secretary Deb Markowitz was one of many top pols who indicated she would consider running for governor. But the Montpelier Democrat ruled out a run in an email Thursday morning.

"I will not be running for governor this time around," she said.

A former secretary of state, Markowitz has run the Agency of Natural Resources since January 2011. She said she hopes to stay put.

“I really have a lot that I want to accomplish, still, in the office where I am. We’ve gotten a lot of good things done — a lot of important things done — but we’re midway with a lot of important initiatives,” she said, citing her agency’s work combatting climate change and forest fragmentation. “There are a lot of internal structural changes happening at the agency that just need a steady hand on the tiller.”

Markowitz has more experience running for statewide office than most of those pondering a gubernatorial bid. She won six races for secretary of state and came in a close third place in the hotly contested, 2010 Democratic gubernatorial primary election.

After losing to Shumlin, Markowitz, second-place finisher Doug Racine and fifth-place finisher Susan Bartlett all went to work for the new governor. Racine and fourth-place finisher Matt Dunne are both considering another bid.

“Having run for governor before and watching firsthand what it really took for the current governor to run and actually be governor, I decided that I really would prefer to focus on where I am now and not jump into this race,” Markowitz said.

Though more than a dozen politicians have said they are considering a run, Markowitz was one of the only women among them. Transportation Secretary Sue Minter has also said she is considering her options, though others have speculated she has her eye on the lieutenant governor's office.

Markowitz said she hopes more women decide to run for the state’s top job.

“I think having a woman governor would be terrific, because we bring our life experience to what we do,” she said. “I have to tell you, that’s the only reason I didn’t instantly say, when you first contacted me, ‘I don’t want to run. I don’t want that job.’”

Markowitz declined to speculate on what she will do when her boss leaves office in January 2017.

“It’s still too early,” she said. “I’d be happy to remain in a role that advances an environmental agenda.”