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1990 Massachusetts gubernatorial election

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Massachusetts gubernatorial election, 1990

← 1986 November 6, 1990 1994 →
Turnout75.85% Increase 18.44 [1]
William F. Weld.jpg
Tribute to John Silber (from
Nominee Bill Weld John Silber
Party Republican Democratic
Running mate Paul Cellucci Marjorie Clapprood
Popular vote 1,175,817 1,099,878
Percentage 50.19% 46.94%

Massachusetts gubernatorial election results by municipality, 1990.svg
Results by town. Red indicates towns carried by Bill Weld, blue indicates towns carried by John Silber.

Governor before election

Michael Dukakis

Elected Governor

Bill Weld

The 1990 Massachusetts gubernatorial election was held on November 6, 1990. Incumbent Democratic Governor Michael Dukakis, his party's nominee for president in 1988, opted to not seek a fourth term. Republican Bill Weld won the open seat, beating Democrat John Silber to become the first Republican Governor of Massachusetts since 1975.

Democratic primary



Eliminated at convention


After Flynn's decision not to run, Murphy was the early frontrunner due to her strong name recognition and a solid base of liberal support. In July 1989, she led Bellotti 42% to 18% in a Boston Globe poll. That November, Bellotti had come within 2% of Murphy in another Boston Globe poll.[3]

In January, Silber entered the race and Bellotti ran his first wave of television ads. By this point, Bellotti had taken the lead in the race, polling 38% to Murphy's 20% and Silber's 16%.[3]

The Democratic Convention was held on June 2, 1990 at the Springfield Civic Center. On the first ballot, Bellotti received 42.9% of the vote, Murphy received 37%, Silber received 15.5%, and Flood received 4.5%. Silber's 15.5% gave him enough votes to remain on the ballot. On the second ballot, Bellotti won the convention with 51%, Murphy received 40%, and Flood received 8.5%. Flood was not able to stay on the ballot as he did not receive the necessary 15%.[4]

Murphy's campaign appeared to be badly hurt by the public perception that she was close to the unpopular Dukakis and therefore tried to make a break with the Dukakis Administration.[3][5] Dukakis twice postponed a trade mission to Europe because Murphy hinted at a news conference that she would execute her own economic plan while serving as acting governor.[5] After the incident, Murphy's unfavorable rating rose to 49% in a Boston Globe/WBZ-TV poll, compared to 38% a month earlier.[3]

A week before the primary, Evelyn Murphy dropped out of the race and threw her support to Bellotti.[6]


Despite having Murphy's support and as high as a 15-point lead in the polls at one point during the campaign, Bellotti was upset by Silber, a political outsider who had run a provocative campaign filled with controversial statements known as "Silber Shockers".[7]

Primary results by municipality
Primary results by municipality
Massachusetts Democratic gubernatorial primary, 1990
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John Silber 562,222 53.47%
Democratic Francis X. Bellotti 459,128 43.67%
Democratic Evelyn Murphy 30,054 2.86%

Lieutenant Governor




Clapprood easily won the nomination, defeating her nearest opponent by over 22%.

Massachusetts Democratic Lt. gubernatorial primary, 1990
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Marjorie Clapprood 498,241 52.02%
Democratic William B. Golden 283,719 29.62%
Democratic Nicholas Paleologos 175,558 18.33%

Republican primary



Eliminated at convention


At the Republican Convention, Pierce received 2,672 votes (52.6%), Weld received 1,845 (36.3%), and Cronin received 563 (11.1%).[12] Cronin was not able to run in the primary because he did not receive the 15% necessary to make the ballot.[13] Pierce received enough votes to have a "supermajority", which made Pierce the officially endorsed candidate of the Republican Party.[12]

During the campaign, Weld attacked Pierce's anti-abortion stance while Pierce claimed that Weld had changed his position on abortion.[14] Pierce also touted his ability to win a House seat in a Democratic district, while Weld had lost to the Democratic front-runner for governor Francis Bellotti in the 1978 Attorney General's race.[14][15]


Despite losing the convention and trailing Pierce in the polls, Weld was able to come-from-behind and defeated Pierce in the Republican primary.

Primary results by municipality
Primary results by municipality
Massachusetts Republican gubernatorial primary, 1990
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Bill Weld 270,319 60.56%
Republican Steven Pierce 176,070 39.44%

Lieutenant Governor




State Senator Paul Cellucci, Weld's running mate, defeated State Representative Peter G. Torkildsen, Pierce's running mate, for the Republican nomination.

Massachusetts Republican Lt. gubernatorial election, 1990
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Paul Cellucci 241,354 59.41%
Republican Peter G. Torkildsen 164,732 40.55%

General election


Silber's lead in the polls vanished after his outburst in an interview with WCVB-TV's Natalie Jacobson.[16][17][18][19] His blunt personality and controversial comments led many Democrats to vote for Weld.[20]

Leonard Umina, a 38-year old computer executive, ran under the Independent High Tech Party banner. The Independent High Tech Party, of which Umina was a founding member, campaigned on a platform of establishing an independent state agency that would store all government documents on a publicly-accessible mainframe to ensure government accountability and transparency. On economic issues, the High Tech Party refuted the trickle-down economics of the Reagan years and advocated the funneling of money to the poor. Four other candidates ran under the Independent High Tech label for statewide offices in 1990. Though most polls showed Umina running considerably behind Weld and Silber, an unscientific poll from WEZE in Quincy showed Umina with 70% of the vote, Silber with 20%, and Weld with 10%.[21][22]

At least two other candidates ran for governor. Dorothy L. Stevens was a single mother that ran as a write-in candidate after withdrawing from a campaign for the Democratic nomination. Her platform included a $10 minimum wage and an expansion of welfare benefits. Mark A. Emanation was the candidate of the Socialist Workers Party.[22]


Bill Weld defeated John Silber to become the state's first Republican Governor since Francis W. Sargent.

As of 2018, this is the most recent gubernatorial election in which Amherst, Cambridge, Leverett, Shutesbury and Wendell each voted for the Republican candidate.

Massachusetts gubernatorial election, 1990[23]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Bill Weld (Paul Cellucci) 1,175,817 50.19% Increase20.63%
Democratic John Silber (Marjorie Clapprood) 1,099,878 46.94% Decrease18.21%
Independent High Tech Leonard Umina (Lawrence DeBerry) 62,703 2.68%
write-in Dorothy Stevens 872 0.04%

Other races


  1. ^ "Massachusetts gubernatorial election, 1990".
  2. ^ Howe, Peter J. (January 7, 1989). "Flynn's Move to Skip Governor's Race Creates a Political Logjam in Boston". Boston Globe. Retrieved 21 April 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d Wilkie, Curtis (September 11, 1990). "Murphy Quits Race, Backs Bellotti". The Boston Globe.
  4. ^ "Massachusetts Dems pick Bellotti for governor at picketed session". Associated Press. June 3, 1990. Retrieved 21 April 2011.
  5. ^ a b Butterfield, Fox (September 7, 1990). "Dukakis Accuses No. 2 of Plotting a Coup". The New York Times. Retrieved December 20, 2013.
  6. ^ Fox Butterfield (September 11, 1990). "Dukakis Antagonist Abandons Primary Race". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-06-18.
  7. ^ Fox Butterfield (September 19, 1990). "Silber Wins Democratic Contest in Massachusetts". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-06-18.
  8. ^ Phillips, Frank (September 30, 1989). "Cellucci, Weld Join Forces". Boston Globe. Retrieved 20 April 2011.
  9. ^ Lehigh, Scot (October 13, 1989). "War Chest is Started and 'King '90' Buttons Ordered". Boston Globe. Retrieved 20 April 2011.
  10. ^ Lehigh, Scot (September 30, 1989). "Some Say Sununu's Push for a King Candidacy Could Backfire". Boston Globe. Retrieved 20 April 2011.
  11. ^ Lehigh, Scot (October 17, 1989). "King Announces He Will Not Run for Governor". Boston Globe. Retrieved 21 April 2011.
  12. ^ a b Weitzman, Erik M. (March 13, 1990). "GOP Takes Center Ring at Convention Circus". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 21 April 2011.
  13. ^ Wilson, David B. (March 25, 1990). "Something is Awry in 15-Percent Rule". Boston Globe. Retrieved 21 April 2011.
  14. ^ a b Lehigh, Scot (December 16, 1989). "Weld, Pierce Trade Barbs Over Abortion Positions". Boston Globe. Retrieved 20 April 2011.
  15. ^ Turner, Robert L. (March 8, 1990). "An L-Word That Worries Some Republicans". Boston Globe. Retrieved 20 April 2011.
  16. ^ Lehr, Dick (2001-01-28). "Split screen". Boston Globe.
  17. ^ Kimmel, Daniel M (June 28, 1996). "Natalie Jacobson wears many hats". Telegram & Gazette.
  18. ^ Diaz, Johnny (2007-07-11). "After 35 years, Jacobson set to retire". Boston Globe.
  19. ^ Diaz, Johnny (November 11, 2008). "Refocused: A year after leaving Channel 5, Natalie Jacobson talks candidly about her life - and about the state of television news". The Boston Globe.
  20. ^ "THE 1990 ELECTIONS: STATE BY STATE; Northeast". The New York Times. November 8, 1990. Retrieved 2010-06-18.
  21. ^ Anzovin, Steven (April 1991). "Online freedom". Compute!. Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  22. ^ a b Mann, Michael P. (November 5, 1990). "The Ones With the Vision". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 2019-11-19.
  23. ^ Massachusetts Secretary of State. "1990 Gubernatorial Election Results". Massachusetts Secretary of State. Retrieved 2019-11-19.
This page was last edited on 19 November 2019, at 19:37
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