November came and went, and even until Thursday, Vermonters did not know who would be inaugurated as governor. They seemed to take this uncertainty in stride, much as they ignored the record-breaking low temperature of minus 20 degrees that encased the gray granite statehouse here in a brittle air. But on Thursday, members of the Vermont House and Senate elected the state’s governor — by secret ballot. They chose Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, giving him his third two-year term. That’s right: 179 state legislators had the final say, not the 193,603 voters who cast ballots for governor in the Nov. 4 election. “Thank you all for making it possible for me to be able to give this speech today,” Mr. Shumlin told legislators a few hours later as he delivered his inaugural address in the House chamber. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart.” He had reason to be grateful.
In November, Mr. Shumlin won only 46.4 percent of the vote, not the 50 percent required by the Vermont Constitution to claim victory outright. He was nearly toppled by Scott Milne, a little-known Republican businessman, who won 45.1 percent.
Mr. Milne refused to concede. That threw the election to the Legislature, to vote on Jan. 8, the day that the new governor would be sworn in.
The vote by the Legislature, which is controlled by Democrats, was much more lopsided — 61.5 percent for Mr. Shumlin to 38.5 for Mr. Milne — than the citizens’ vote in November, which left Mr. Shumlin humiliated.