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Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan won't seek reelection

Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan speaking during the 2016 election. Donovan is seeking a second two-year term in the Nov. 6 election.
Oliver Parini
VPR file
Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan announced Thursday he won't seek reelection and is planning to take a break from politics.

Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan announced Thursday he won’t run for reelection this year, and won’t seek another public office this cycle.

When Donovan was elected the state’s top law enforcement officer in 2016, many believed he would use the position as a springboard for higher office.

But now, after three terms, Donovan said he’s ready for a break.

“The job of attorney general, it's a wonderful job,” he said in a phone interview on Thursday. “But every legal issue in the state you're involved in. And the portfolio is big and you're on 24/7. And for me this past year, I think I kind of hit a wall.”

Donovan didn’t rule out running for political office in the future.

“I’m just trying to make this decision and move on and not be on the ballot in 2022,” Donovan said. “We’ll see what the future holds.”

On Thursday, Donovan said he’s had several conversations with people about potential job opportunities but that nothing was finalized.

More from VPR: AG Donovan says new bankruptcy plan for opioid maker will help Vermonters

During his tenure as attorney general, Donovan brought several high-profile lawsuits against opioid manufacturers and distributors during his time in office and secured tens of millions of dollars in settlements related to those cases.

He’s also waded into several controversial cases, including re-filing murder charges in three high-profile cases after a request from Gov. Phil Scott.

Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George had dismissedthe cases because she said her office didn’t have evidence to prove the defendants, in separate cases, weren’t insane at the time of the alleged crimes.

In another high profile case, Donovan declined to file charges after investigating allegations that Max Misch, a self-proclaimed white nationalist, harassed former state Rep. Kiah Morris, who’s Black. Donovan’s office, in a separate case, charged Misch for possessing a high-capacity firearms magazine.

Prior to becoming attorney general, Donovan spent a decade as the Chittenden County State’s Attorney. He first ran for the AG's office in 2012 when he challenged then-Attorney General Bill Sorrell in the Democratic primary.

Donovan is the latest in a string of Vermont politicians to announce they were leaving office.

Earlier this week, State Treasurer Beth Pearce announced she wouldn't seek another term, citing health issues. Secretary of State Jim Condos is also stepping down, and Lt. Gov. Molly Gray is leaving the post to run for Rep. Peter Welch's seat in the U.S. House. Welch is running to take Sen. Patrick Leahy's seat. Leahy announced in November that he isn't seeking another term.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or get in touch with reporter Liam Elder-Connors @lseconnors

Liam is Vermont Public’s public safety reporter, focusing on law enforcement, courts and the prison system.
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