The 2002 Texas gubernatorial election was held on November 5, 2002 to select the governor of the state of Texas. The election was won by Rick Perry, candidate of the Republican Party. Incumbent Rick Perry became governor after Gov. George W. Bush resigned on December 21, 2000, before becoming President of the United States in 2001. He was elected Lieutenant Governor in 1998. Laredo oilman Tony Sanchez finished second, with Libertarian Jeff Daiell placing third. Perry was inaugurated for a full four-year term on January 21, 2003.
In the 2002 gubernatorial election, Perry carried 218 counties while Sanchez managed to carry 36 out of 254 counties. Among likely voters, Perry carried Anglos (70% to 30%), while Sanchez won African Americans (85% to 15%) and Latinos (87% to 13%).
The Republican and Democratic Party primaries were held on March 12, 2002 with the winner of each requiring a majority vote. The Libertarians selected their nominee at their State Convention, being forbidden by Texas statute from holding a primary.
Sanchez was best known for getting involved in successful battles such as: challenging the architectural plan for a new art museum and to consider a Hispanic candidate for President of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Sanchez started making waves on running for governor back in late 2000, when he was helped by Kelly Fero, who served as a consultant on Jim Mattox's unsuccessful campaign for Governor in 1990 and John Sharp's 1998 unsuccessful bid for Lieutenant Governor, and also had discussions with George Shipley, a longtime Democratic strategist and consultant. In the Democratic primary, Sanchez easily defeated Morales by a landslide margin of 60 percent to 32 percent in the March 12, 2002 primary elections. However, the bitter primary campaign between Sanchez and Morales resulted in negative campaign attacks including Morales criticizing Sanchez for connections between a failed Sanchez-owned savings and loan and Mexican drug lords. Sanchez pummeled Morales by picking up the questions on the tobacco settlement and suggested the former Texas Attorney General was only running for office to protect himself from federal indictments. Sanchez managed to get the endorsements from the Austin Chronicle, Corpus Christi Caller Times, and the Waco Tribune Herald during the general election campaign.