Because state Treasurer James Douglas failed to win a majority of the vote in Tuesday's election that featured 10 candidates for governor, the state Constitution requires the Legislature make the final decision when it meets after the first of the year.
Douglas received 45 percent of the vote. The runner-up candidate, Democrat Lt. Gov. Doug Racine, received 42 percent. The next highest total -- 10 percent -- went to independent Cornelius Hogan.
Racine, however, decided to concede the race to Douglas, fulfilling a pledge he made during the campaign to withdraw if he failed to get the most votes.
Douglas immediately claimed victory.
Both men appeared Wednesday at a news conference at the Statehouse in Montpelier.
Racine said he called Douglas earlier Wednesday "to offer him my congratulations. He has won the campaign and he will be Vermont's next governor."
"I will urge the Legislature ... to do the right thing, respect the will of the voters and elect Jim Douglas governor of the state of Vermont on Jan. 9," said Racine, who had served as lieutenant governor for six years.
Douglas shook Racine's hand and thanked him for the "spirited campaign."
"It is particularly meaningful to me to have you come here this morning and invite me to come and allow Vermont to move forward in the best interest of the state," Douglas said.
Douglas immediately named a four-member team to work out the transition from the Democratic administration of Gov. Howard Dean. Douglas planned to meet with Dean on Thursday.
Dean decided not to seek re-election this year in order to make a bid for president in 2004.