Douglas graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Middlebury College in Middlebury. He studied Slavic. In November 1972 he was elected as an MP in the House of Representatives of Vermont, where he remained until 1979. After Douglas was from 1981 to 1993 Secretary of State of Vermont, and from 1995 to 2003 Minister of Finance ( Treasurer ) of that State.
At the 2002 gubernatorial election in Vermont, he managed to win over the Democratic Lieutenant Governor Doug Racine, whereupon he succeeded Howard Dean in the Office of the Governor, who no longer took. In the years 2004, 2006 and 2008, he was confirmed in each case in office; Vermont is next to New Hampshire the only state in which two - rather than four -year terms of office to complete the governors. From 2009 to 2010 Douglas chaired the National Governors Association.
In August 2009, Douglas announced that he would take up in 2010 not again in the elections of the year. His successor was January 6, 2011, the Democrat Peter Shumlin, who defeated Republican Lieutenant Governor under Douglas, Brian Dubie.