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2002 Massachusetts gubernatorial election

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

2002 Massachusetts gubernatorial election

← 1998 November 5, 2002 2006 →
Turnout55.29% Increase 4.1 [1]
Mitt Romney 2005.jpg
Shannon O'Brien (cropped).jpg
Nominee Mitt Romney Shannon O'Brien
Party Republican Democratic
Running mate Kerry Healey Chris Gabrieli
Popular vote 1,091,988 985,981
Percentage 49.8% 44.9%

Massachusetts gubernatorial election results by municipality, 2002.svg
Municipality Results

Governor before election

Jane Swift

Elected Governor

Mitt Romney

The Massachusetts gubernatorial election of 2002 was held on November 5, 2002. Incumbent Republican acting governor Jane Swift chose not to seek a full term in office. Republican businessman Mitt Romney defeated Democratic Treasurer Shannon O'Brien.

Republican primary


In 2002, Republican lieutenant governor Jane Swift was expected to campaign for the governor's office, and she had said she would in October 2001.[2] Swift had been serving as acting governor after Republican governor Paul Cellucci resigned upon being appointed U.S. Ambassador to Canada.[2] However, Swift was viewed as an unpopular executive, and her administration was plagued by political missteps and personal and ethical controversies.[2][3][4] Many Republicans viewed her as a liability and considered her unable to win a general election against a Democrat.[5]

Prominent GOP activists campaigned to persuade businessman Mitt Romney, who had previously run for the U.S. Senate from the state, to run for governor.[6] Romney was coming off a successful stint as head of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games of 2002[2] and was also mentioned as a possible candidate for Governor of Utah.[4] Romney had previously indicated in fall 2001 that he would not challenge a sitting Republican in running for the Massachusetts governorship, and thus was in a delicate position.[2][4] Massachusetts Republican State Committee chair Kerry Healey had flown to Utah to personally assess Romney's intentions.[4]

On March 17, Romney flew to Massachusetts; a Boston Herald poll showed him defeating Swift by a 75 percent to 12 percent margin in a Republican primary.[4][7] Two days later, Swift declared that she had decided not to seek her party's nomination, citing family reasons and also saying "I believe that this is in the best interest of our state, as it will allow the Republican Party's best chances of holding the governor's office in November."[7] Three hours later, Romney announced his candidacy.[2] Romney was subsequently unopposed in the Republican party primary.[8]


  • Mitt Romney, businessman and 1994 Senate nominee


Poll source Dates administered Mitt Romney Jane M. Swift
Boston Herald March 17, 2002 77% 12%

Lieutenant governor



Jim Rappaport, the Republican nominee for United States Senate in 1990 and a political adversary of Jane Swift, was the first Republican to declare his candidacy for lieutenant governor.[14]

In February, Swift named Patrick Guerriero, her deputy chief of staff, as her running mate after multiple others declined.[15] Guerriero was the nation's first openly gay candidate for lieutenant governor.[16]

After Romney entered the race he selected Kerry Healey, former chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party, to be his running mate.[17] Shortly after Romney's endorsement of Healey, Guerriero dropped out of the race and gave his support to Healey.[18] Rappaport remained in the race and lost to Healey in the Republican primary.


Massachusetts Republican lieutenant gubernatorial primary, 2002
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Kerry Healey 159,667 62.76
Republican Jim Rappaport 88,061 34.62
Write-in All others 241 0.09
Total votes 247,969 100

Democratic primary




The leader in most of the polls conducted was O'Brien, who was a longtime insider with four generations of heritage in the Beacon Hill political establishment.[2][4] However, she faced criticism for some of the losing investments she had made as state treasurer.[2]

Reich's candidacy attracted considerable media attention, especially due to the 1997 publication of his memoir of working for the Clinton administration, Locked in the Cabinet. Reich had received criticism for embellishing events with invented dialogue, and the book had so angered Bill Clinton that he endorsed Grossman instead.[2]

Of the Democrats running, only Tolman elected to accept Clean Elections funding.[2]

In the September 17, 2002, primary, O'Brien won with 33 percent of the vote; Reich came in second with 25 percent, followed by 24 percent for Birmingham and 18 percent for Tolman (Grossman had dropped out before then).[2]


Poll source Dates administered Shannon O'Brien Tom Birmingham Robert Reich Warren Tolman
Boston Globe/WBZ-TV September 13, 2002 31% 22% 22% 13%


Democratic primary results by municipality
Democratic primary results by municipality
Massachusetts Democratic gubernatorial primary, 2002
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Shannon O'Brien 243,039 32.52
Democratic Robert Reich 185,315 24.80
Democratic Tom Birmingham 179,703 24.05
Democratic Warren Tolman 132,157 17.69
Democratic Steve Grossman 5,976 0.80
Write-in All others 1,113 0.15

Lieutenant governor


Eliminated at convention
  • Sarah Cannon Holden[19]

Gabrieli was the running mate of Shannon O'Brien while Slattery and Pines were not affiliated with any candidate.


Massachusetts Democratic gubernatorial primary, 2002
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Chris Gabrieli 306,043 46.18
Democratic Lois Pines 205,208 30.96
Democratic John P. Slattery 150,313 22.68
Write-in All others 1,185 0.18

Independents and third parties

  • Running mate: Rich Aucoin, mechanical designer and candidate for Waltham Council in 2001
  • Running mate: Joe Schebel, self-employed carpenter
  • Running mate: Tony Lorenzen, high school theology teacher

General election

Question of Romney's residency

Before the primaries concluded, Democratic officials claimed that Romney was ineligible to run for governor, citing residency issues. The Massachusetts Constitution requires that a gubernatorial candidate be an "inhabitant" for seven consecutive years prior to a run for office.[28][29]

Romney had attended business and law school at Harvard and spent his entire business career in Massachusetts until being hired to organize the Salt Lake Olympics in 1999. In 1999, Romney had listed himself as a part-time Massachusetts resident,[30] Romney had claimed residency in Utah from 1999 to 2002, during his time as president of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee and received a $54,000 property tax break there. Romney now offered to pay back that exemption.[2] Romney said that he had planned to return to Massachusetts all along.

On June 8, 2002, the Massachusetts Democratic Party filed a complaint with the Massachusetts State Ballot Law Commission,[28] which tended to be lenient in its interpretations of the requirements for residency.[28] At the time the commission was composed of three Republicans, one Democrat and one independent. On June 25, 2002, the commission unanimously ruled that Romney was eligible to run for office,[31] saying that "[Romney] never severed his ties to Massachusetts [and] his testimony was credible in all respects."[4] The ruling was not challenged in court,[32] and Romney accused the Democrats of playing "ridiculous, dirty politics".[4]


Romney ran as a political outsider[33] and as an agent of change, saying he would "clean up the mess on Beacon Hill."[4] He said he was "not a partisan Republican" but rather a "moderate" with "progressive" views[34] Romney declared support for faith-based initiatives[2] and campaigned as a pro-choice candidate who would protect a woman's right to an abortion. He rejected the endorsement of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, an anti-abortion organization.[35]

O'Brien claimed Romney was "trying to mask a very conservative set of belief systems". While saying she would not criticize his membership in the LDS Church, she attacked his substantial donations to Brigham Young University, objecting to their bar on expressions of homosexuality.[2] O'Brien came out in support of same-sex marriage.[2]

Supporters of Romney hailed his business record, especially his success with the 2002 Olympics, as that of one who would be able to bring a new era of efficiency into Massachusetts politics.[8] His campaign was the first to use microtargeting techniques, in which small groups of voters were reached with narrowly tailored messaging.[36]

He proposed to reorganize the state government[37] and stressed his ability to obtain federal funds for the state.[38][39] Romney said he would cut $1 billion out of the $23 billion state budget by eliminating the usual suspects of waste, fraud, and mismanagement while still reducing taxes over a phased period.[4] He also said he was generally against tax increases, but refused to rule out the possibility of a tax increase.[2] he did attempt to paint O'Brien as a 'tax-and-spend liberal'.[4]

O'Brien focused her attacks by portraying Romney as being out of place in Massachusetts.[2] Romney had stumbled earlier in the year by not knowing that "MCAS" stood for the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System of school exams.[2] To soften Romney's image, a series of "work days" had been staged over the summer, in which he performed blue-collar jobs such as herding cows and baling hay, unloading a fishing boat, and hauling garbage.[2][40][37][41] Television ads highlighting the effort, as well as one portraying his family in gushing terms and showing him shirtless,[40] received a poor public response.[37][41] O'Brien responded, "Massachusetts doesn't need a governor who thinks getting in touch with working people is a costume party."[4]

By mid-October, Romney trailed O'Brien in most polls.[37][41] He responded with negative ads that accused O'Brien of mismanaging pension funds. Specifically, one ad featured a basset hound sleeping as men removed bags of money from the Massachusetts treasury. Another associated her husband Emmet Hayes, a former lobbyist, with the Enron scandal.[4][41]

O'Brien's campaign was hobbled by the short amount of time between the primary and the general election and by her having exhausted most of her funds by spending $4.5 million to win the nomination.[2][4] Romney, able to focus on the general election in the absence of any primary contest, contributed over $6 million to his own campaign during the election, a state record at the time.[2][42] He raised nearly $10 million for his campaign overall.[43]


In the debates, O'Brien attacked Romney repeatedly. He referred to her style as "unbecoming", which engendered criticism that he was insensitive to women.[2]

After being excluded from the first debate, Stein and Independent candidate Barbara Johnson sued the media organizers of the debate.[44] Middlesex Superior Court Judge Linda Giles ruled against Stein and Johnson, stating that the state's campaign finance laws do not apply to the press organizing political debates and that the invitations to Shannon O'Brien and Mitt Romney did not constitute a campaign contribution.[45]


Poll source Date(s) administered Shannon
O'Brien (D)
Romney (R)
Boston Herald February 27, 2002 32% 38%
Boston Herald September 20, 2002 45% 42%
Institute of Politics/NECN October 2–3, 2002 40% 40%
RKM Research and Communications October 4, 2002 43% 42%
Institute of Politics/NECN October 24–27, 2002 41% 39% 11%
Boston Herald October 29, 2002 44% 38%
Boston Globe/WBZ November 1, 2002 41% 40%


Results by city and town
Results by city and town

Romney and Healey were elected governor and lieutenant governor with 50 percent of the vote over O'Brien and Gabrieli, who received 45 percent.[46] Ten years later, Romney and Stein ran against each other in the 2012 U.S. presidential election, with both losing to incumbent Democratic President Barack Obama.

Romney performed strongly with Republicans and won many independents in the belt between Route 128 and I-495. He almost ran even with O'Brien in smaller working-class cities, and holding down Democratic margins in large urban areas.[2][4] This was the fourth consecutive win for Republicans in the state gubernatorial contest.[8]

Massachusetts gubernatorial election, 2002
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Mitt Romney 1,091,988 49.77 Decrease1.04
Democratic Shannon O'Brien 985,981 44.94 Decrease2.44
Green-Rainbow Jill Stein 76,530 3.49 Increase3.49
Libertarian Carla Howell 23,044 1.05 Decrease0.64
Independent Barbara Johnson 15,335 0.70 Increase0.70
Write-in All others 1,301 0.06 Decrease0.05
Total votes 2,194,179 100 + 4.04
Blank 6,122
Turnout 2,220,301
Majority 106,007 4.83%
Republican hold Swing + 1.40

See also


  1. ^ "Massachusetts gubernatorial election, 2002". Cite has empty unknown parameter: |1= (help)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w Barone, Michael; Cohen, Richard E. (2004). The Almanac of American Politics 2004 (paperback). Washington: National Journal Group. pp. 772–773. ISBN 0-89234-106-8.
  3. ^ Associated Press. "Massachusetts's first female governor takes office, under heavy statewide scrutiny" Archived 2008-02-20 at the Wayback Machine The Daily Texan, April 11, 2001. Retrieved October 29, 2006.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Mooney, Brian (June 29, 2007). "The Making of Mitt Romney: Part 6: Taking office, remaining an outsider". The Boston Globe.
  5. ^ Frank, Mitch."Jane Swift Takes One For the Team:The Massachusetts GOP took a risk by choosing Mitt Romney over the more progressive Swift. Will their decision come back to haunt them?"  Archived 2003-04-06 at the Wayback Machine Time Magazine, March 21, 2002. Retrieved October 29, 2006.
  6. ^ Berwick Jr., Bob and Roch, Lisa Riley. "Boston GOP beseeching Mitt: But hero of S.L. Games is coy about his future" Archived 2008-12-23 at the Wayback Machine Deseret News, February 22, 2002. Retrieved November 1, 2006.
  7. ^ a b "Swift exits, Romney joins Mass. governor's race"Archived 2007-08-13 at the Wayback Machine, CNN, March 19, 2002. Retrieved October 30, 2006.
  8. ^ a b c "Vote 2002: Massachusetts Governor's Race" PBS Online News Hour (No Date). Retrieved November 1, 2006.
  9. ^ Frank Phillips; Stephanie Ebbert (April 3, 2002). "GOP'S No. 2 Race Takes a Twist". Boston Globe.
  10. ^ Fenn, Jennifer (April 4, 2002). "Some in GOP miffed at Mitt". The Sun.
  11. ^ a b Silberman, Ellen J. (September 21, 2001). "ProQuest Archiver:  Titles". Boston Herald. Retrieved May 28, 2017.
  12. ^ Guarino, David R. (November 24, 2001). "Credit cut; Registry KOs popular charge card service". Boston Herald.
  13. ^ Holmes, Rick (January 9, 2002). "Turnpike hearings deserve open road". Boston Herald. Retrieved 18 March 2011.
  14. ^ Battenfeld, Joe (September 7, 2001). "Rappaport could torpedo Swift bid to control GOP". Boston Herald. Retrieved 18 March 2011.
  15. ^ Anderson, Lisa (February 12, 2002). "Massachusetts savors prospect of hot primary". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 18 March 2011.
  16. ^ Wu, Janet (January 2002). "Swift Names Guerriero As Running Mate". WCVB Boston. Archived from the original on 2012-03-20.
  17. ^ "Romney taps Healey as his running mate". Worcester Telegram & Gazette. April 4, 2002.
  18. ^ Tutalo, Frank (April 4, 2002). "Healey's candidacy, Guerriero's withdrawal, shake up Lt. Governor's race". Harvard Hillside.
  19. ^ Keane, Jr., Thomas M. (June 7, 2002). "Convention system misses on all fronts". Boston Herald.
  20. ^ Johnson, Glen (May 15, 2001). "Prospective Candidates Walk a Fine Line on Moakley Seat". Boston Globe. Retrieved 4 October 2011.
  21. ^ "The 9th: Are we there yet?". Boston Herald. July 7, 2001. Retrieved 18 March 2011.
  22. ^ a b "Former Presidents Entering Fray". WCVB-TV Boston. Hearst Television, Inc. Archived from the original on 26 December 2002. Retrieved 6 April 2012.
  23. ^ "Bilingual ed produces stark divide". Worcester Telegram & Gazette. October 6, 2002.
  24. ^ "Gubernatorial Candidates Square Off In Debate". WCVB-TV Boston. Hearst Television, Inc. Retrieved 6 April 2012.[permanent dead link]
  25. ^ Williams, Eric (October 31, 2002). "Political spoiler?". Cape Cod Times.
  26. ^ McConville, Christine (October 13, 2002). "Green Party Line Colors Governor's Race Debate". Boston Globe.
  27. ^ Gitell, Seth (October 10, 2002). "Jill Stein won the debate". Boston Phoenix. Archived from the original on 28 February 2012. Retrieved 6 April 2012.
  28. ^ a b c Butterfield, Fox (June 8, 2002). "Republican's Candidacy Is Challenged By Democrats". The New York Times. Cite has empty unknown parameter: |1= (help)
  29. ^ Massachusetts Ballot Law Commission Decision (June 25, 2002) via Scribd (another copy is available from the CNN content delivery network).
  30. ^ Mcelhenny, John (Associated Press)"Romney defends right to run for governor" Portsmouth Herald, Tuesday, June 18, 2002. Retrieved July 12, 2012.
  31. ^ Osnos, Evan (June 25, 2002). "Mass. board confirms GOP gubernatorial candidate's residency". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on May 2, 2013.
  32. ^ Belluck, Pam. "Massachusetts Ballot Panel Allows Race By Republican" The New York Times (Page A-17), June 26, 2002.
  33. ^ Barone and Cohen, The Almanac of American Politics 2004, p. 772.
  34. ^ Killough, Ashley (December 13, 2011). "Democrats rail against Romney over decade-old comments". CNN. See "Romney in 2002: I'm 'Moderate,' 'Progressive,' and 'Not a Partisan Republican' [VIDEO]" for video.
  35. ^ Kessler, Glenn (January 20, 2012), "Fact checking the CNN debate in Charleston", The Washington Post, retrieved 2012-01-23
  36. ^ Cillizza, Chris (July 5, 2007). "Romney's Data Cruncher". The Washington Post.
  37. ^ a b c d Bayles, Fred (October 16, 2002). "Romney may be losing his touch in Mass". USA Today.
  38. ^ Karl, Jonathan (March 2, 2012). "In '02 Romney touted D.C. connections, federal funds". ABC News.
  39. ^ Isikoff, Michael (February 18, 2012). "Salt Lake City Olympics Earmarks a Double-Edged Sword for Romney". NBC News. Archived from the original on June 3, 2012.
  40. ^ a b Klein, Rick (September 26, 2002). "New Ads, 'Work Days' Show Down-to-Earth Candidate". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on April 15, 2016. Also available as "Mitt takes his shirt off as campaign heats up", Deseret News, September 27, 2002.
  41. ^ a b c d Miga, Andrew (April 5, 2012). "Don't expect a warm and fuzzy Romney this fall". The Post and Courier. Associated Press.
  42. ^ "Gabrieli surpasses spending record" Brian C. Mooney Boston Globe; August 22, 2006. Retrieved November 20, 2006.
  43. ^ Bunker, Ted (November 11, 2002). "Donor cash still floods campaigns". Boston Herald. Archived from the original on November 29, 2012.
  44. ^ "Candidates Sue Media Consortium Over Debate Exclusion". WCVB-TV Boston. Hearst Stations Inc. Archived from the original on 1 July 2007. Retrieved 6 April 2012.
  45. ^ Marantz, Steve (October 2, 2002). "Judge keeps third party candidates on sideline". Boston Herald. Retrieved 6 April 2012.
  46. ^ "2002 Election Results, Governor" Retrieved November 1, 2006.

External links

Campaign sites
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