Peter Shumlin Picks a Team of Rivals

First, Vermont Governor-elect Peter Shumlin named one of his Democratic primary opponents, state Senator Susan Bartlett , as a special assistant. Then, Vermont Public Radio reported that the new governor would utilize outgoing Lieutenant Governor Brian Dubie , a Republican whom Shumlin defeated in the general election, to build stronger ties with Quebec. Now, Shumlin has picked another political opponent for a key job, the Burlington Free Press reports . Doug Racine , a state senator and former lieutenant governor who lost to Shumlin in the Democratic primary by 203 votes, will lead the Agency of Human Services. The appointment places Racine in charge of an agency that will be responsible for implementing some of Shumlin's biggest plans, including creating a single-payer health care system and reducing corrections spending.

is conducting a transition on the cheap, the Des Moines Register reports . The state has allocated $10,000 for the shift from Democratic Governor Chet Culver to Republican Terry Branstad. That's far less than some other states, such as Michigan, which appropriated $1.5 million. It's also far less than previous Iowa transitions, which cost $37,000 in 1998 and $141,112 in 2006. While some legislators say they're willing to reimburse more transition spending in their session next year, Branstad has signaled he doesn't want that. He's conducting private fundraising to try to finance the transition. "We are not going to ask the taxpayers for any money," Branstad said, according to the Register . "We have enough economic problems with the state that I want to lead by example, and I think this is a good way to do it."

Connecticut Democrats might end the death penalty in the state, the Wall Street Journal reports . Governor-elect Dan Malloy , Connecticut's first Democratic governor in 20 years, is a death penalty opponent. Democrats in the Legislature plan to introduce a bill to do away with the punishment.

Hawaii Governor-elect Neil Abercrombie picked a director of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations who has public employee unions pleased, the Honolulu Star Advertiser reports . Abercrombie, a Democrat who will replace Republican Linda Lingle, named Dwight Takamine to the job. Takamine is a labor-friendly state senator and the son of a union leader. Abercrombie named  Audrey Hidano , the founder of a construction company, as deputy director, in a move seen as designed to balance Takamine.

Democrat Kamala Harris ' long-delayed victory in the race for attorney general of California has important implications for gay marriage. It also has big implications for corrections policy, the Los Angeles Times notes . Harris, San Francisco's district attorney, won a narrow victory over Republican Steve Cooley, a result that was  clear only after weeks of ballot counting. One of the major policy differences between Cooley and Harris was that Cooley said that he would continue to defend Proposition 8 — the 2008 citizen initiative that banned gay marriage — in court, while Harris said she wouldn't. Governor-elect Jerry Brown also has said he won't defend the law, which means it's possible that no one will have standing to appeal it. During the campaign,  Harris emphasized reducing recidivism rates and making California prisons less crowded.  


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