Roy considers run for secretary of state2/19/09

Incumbent may seek governor’s post

Feb. 19, 2009

By Greg Elias

Observer staff

Williston Selectboard member Chris Roy may run for secretary of state, the latest entry in a game of political musical chairs involving top statewide offices.


Chris Roy

Roy, a Republican, said he is forming an exploratory committee, a preliminary step toward formally filing for election to the post currently held by Deb Markowitz, a Democrat whose term expires in 2010. Markowitz recently announced she is considering a bid for governor.

Roy said the secretary of state has “sort of an odd collection of duties,” including professional regulation and licensing, that dovetail with his experience as a lawyer with Downs Rachlin Martin in Burlington.

Roy said he would decide whether to run independent of Markowitz’s final call on entering the governor’s race. But he acknowledged that the lack of an incumbent in such a high-profile contest piqued his interest.

“It doesn’t take a great political figure to know Vermont likes its incumbents,” he said.

Markowitz’s potential departure after a decade as secretary of state has prompted interest among others. Former state Sen. Jim Condos, a Democrat, is also rumored to be considering a run for the office.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Doug Racine, a Democrat from Richmond, plans to run for governor. State Treasurer Jeb Spaulding ruled out a candidacy for governor earlier this month, but a number of other prominent Democrats have expressed an interest in challenging incumbent Gov. Jim Douglas.

Referring to his potential competitors, Douglas last week said political leaders should focus on the economic crisis, not campaigning. He said most Vermonters view as “perverse” runs for office so far ahead of an election

Kicking off a potential candidacy for statewide office 20 months before an election isn’t unusual in other states, Roy said, noting that it only seems premature in Vermont because of the relatively short two-year terms for statewide offices. He said getting word out early about a potential candidacy gives him a chance to build name recognition.

Roy, 44, was born and raised in Barre. He attended Harvard University, earning a degree in government before obtaining his law degree from Cornell University.

He has worked at Downs Rachlin Martin since 1990. His law practice has concentrated on commercial and property litigation.

Roy was elected to a two-year term on the Selectboard in March 2008. He has also served on the Vermont Environmental Board and the Vermont Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Roy said he would have to resign his post at Downs Rachlin Martin if elected as secretary of state. But he left open the possibility of continuing on the Selectboard.

His Selectboard term ends in March 2010, eight months before the statewide election. He said he would likely run for re-election to the Selectboard and then decide whether to stay on if he becomes secretary of state.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.