Massachusetts gubernatorial election, 2002

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Massachusetts gubernatorial election, 2002

← 1998 November 5, 2002 2006 →
Turnout 55.29% 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. Republican businessman and eventual 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney defeated Democratic State Treasurer Shannon O'Brien, and was elected to a four-year term, which he served from January 2, 2003 until January 4, 2007. Every four years, Massachusetts holds statewide elections for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of the Commonwealth, State Treasurer, and Auditor. The primary election was September 17, 2002.



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 into Massachusetts; a Boston Herald poll showed him defeating Swift by a 75 percent to 12 percent margin in a Republican primary.[4][7] On March 19, 2002, 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]

Massachusetts Democratic Party 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.[9][10] Romney had claimed residency in Utah from 1999 to 2002, during his time as president of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee. He had thus gotten a $54,000 property tax break there (which he now offered to pay back).[2] In 1999 he had listed himself as a part-time Massachusetts resident,[11] and now said that he had planned to return to Massachusetts (where he had gone to business and law school and had spent his entire business career until taking over the Olympics) all along.[2] On June 8, 2002, the Massachusetts Democratic Party filed a complaint with the Massachusetts State Ballot Law Commission.[9] That body, at the time which comprised three Republicans, one Democrat and one independent, had always tended to be lenient in its interpretations of the requirements for residency.[9] It unanimously ruled on June 25, 2002, that Romney was eligible to run for office,[12] 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,[13] and the whole matter engendered sympathy for Romney, who accused the Democrats of playing "ridiculous, dirty politics".[4]


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

Lieutenant governor[edit]

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] Swift named Patrick Guerriero, her deputy chief of staff (who was openly gay), as her running mate.[15] Guerriero was the nation's first openly gay candidate for lieutenant governor.[16] He was chosen by Swift after Suffolk County District Attorney Ralph C. Martin II,[17] Registrar of Motor Vehicles Daniel Grabauskas,[18] Essex County Sheriff Frank Cousins,[17] and Massachusetts Turnpike Authority member Christy Mihos[19] declined to run with Swift.

Kerry Healey, former Chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party was selected by Mitt Romney to be his running mate.[20] Shortly after Romney's endorsement of Healey, Guerriero dropped out of the race and gave his support to Healey.[21] Rappaport remained in the race and lost to Healey in the Republican primary.

Former state representative Donna Cuomo was also briefly a Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor. She announced her candidacy on April 2, 2002[22] and dropped out of the race the next day.[23]

Primary results[edit]

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



There was a five-way battle for the Democratic nomination for governor, contested among Massachusetts State Treasurer Shannon O'Brien, President of the Massachusetts Senate Thomas Birmingham, former Democratic National Committee and American Israel Public Affairs Committee chair Steven Grossman, former United States Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, and former nominee for lieutenant governor Warren Tolman.

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, all but Tolman opted out of 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%

Primary results[edit]

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[edit]

The Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor was a three-way battle between businessman Chris Gabrieli, state representative John P. Slattery, and former State Senator Lois Pines. Gabrieli was the running mate of Shannon O'Brien while Slattery and Pines were not affiliated with any candidate. Stephen Lynch was a candidate for Lieutenant Governor, but dropped out of the race when Congressman Joe Moakley announced he was not running for reelection and Lynch decided to run to succeed him.[24] State Senator Cheryl A. Jacques was also a candidate for Lieutenant Governor, but dropped out of the race to run in the special election in Massachusetts's 9th congressional district.[25] Sarah Cannon Holden also ran for Lieutenant Governor, but did not receive enough support at the Democratic Convention to make the primary ballot.[26]

Primary results[edit]

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

General election[edit]

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] She 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 his image of being a wealthy corporate buyout specialist out of touch with the needs of regular people – an image that had damaged him in his 1994 U.S. Senate race – a series of "work days" had been staged over the summer, in which Romney performed blue-collar jobs such as herding cows and baling hay, unloading a fishing boat, and hauling garbage.[2][27][28][29] Television ads highlighting the effort, as well as one portraying his family in gushing terms and showing him shirtless,[27] received a poor public response.[28][29] O'Brien now said in response that "Massachusetts doesn't need a governor who thinks getting in touch with working people is a costume party."[4] She said 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] Romney declared support for faith-based initiatives.[2] Romney campaigned as a pro-choice candidate who would protect a woman's right to an abortion, and he rejected the endorsement of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, a pro-life organization.[30]

Romney ran as a political outsider,[31] just as he had in the 1994 U.S. Senate election, 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[32] (although John W. Sears and several other state Republicans would later say Romney was from the more conservative side of the Massachusetts party).[33]

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] He proposed to reorganize the state government[28] and stressed his ability to obtain federal funds for the state.[34][35] 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;[2] he did attempt to paint O'Brien as a 'tax-and-spend liberal'.[4] Romney contributed over $6 million to his own campaign during the election, a state record at the time.[2][36] He raised nearly $10 million for his campaign overall.[37] His campaign was the first to use microtargeting techniques, in which fine-grained groups of voters were reached with narrowly tailored messaging.[38]

Jill Stein, internist at Simmons College Health Center and resident of Lexington, Massachusetts was the Green Party nominee for Governor.[39] She campaigned against requiring that students pass the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System tests to graduate high school, and in support of clean air and bilingual education.[40][41] After being excluded from the first debate, Stein and Independent candidate Barbara Johnson sued the media organizers of the debate.[42] 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.[43]

Carla Howell, a candidate for United States Senate in 2000 was the Libertarian Party's candidate for governor. Howell campaigned in favor of the ballot initiative that would abolish the state's income tax and reducing the size of government and against bilingual education.[44][45]

Barbara C. Johnson ran as an independent candidate. Described as a "wild card, with ideas ranging across the political spectrum", Johnson campaigned against keeping MCAS as a requirement for graduation and in favor of giving abandoned housing to its tenants.[44][46]

By mid-October, the backfiring television ads had contributed to Romney being behind O'Brien in polls.[28][29] He rebounded with negative ads that accused O'Brien of being a failed watchdog for state pension fund losses in the stock market, specifically featuring a basset hound sleeping as bad men removed bags of money from the Massachusetts treasury, and that associated her husband, a former lobbyist, with the Enron scandal.[4][29] Debates held instanced O'Brien attacking Romney repeatedly; he ended up referring to her style as "unbecoming", which engendered criticism that he was insensitive to women.[2]

Jill Stein's impressive performance at the October 9 debate led to speculation that she could play a spoiler in the race by siphoning votes from O'Brien.[39][41][46][47] In an effort to prevent losing Democratic votes to Stein, Arlington School Committee member Paul Schlichtman purchased the rights to and diverted the page to, which stated that "A vote for Jill Stein just brings you four more years of Weld-Cellucci-Swift-Romney-Healey business as usual."[47] Robert Reich delivered a similar message to Democratic activists, saying that "A vote for the Green Party is in effect a vote for the Republican Party".[48] It was also speculated that Carla Howell's could also drain conservative support from Romney.[46] However, none of the three minor candidates proved to be a numerical factor in the race.[49]


Poll source Dates administered Republican Democratic Green-Rainbow Libertarian Independent
Mitt Romney Jane M. Swift Shannon O'Brien Robert Reich Tom Birmingham Steve Grossman Warren Tolman William Galvin Marty Meehan Jill Stein Carla Howell Barbara Johnson
Boston Herald February 18, 2001 23% 37%
25% 37%
25% 37%
25% 25%
25% 26%
Boston Globe January 27, 2002 21% 39%
23% 35%
23% 35%
23% 33%
25% 27%
24% 28%
Boston Herald February 27, 2002 38% 32%
40% 31%
Boston Herald September 20, 2002 42% 45%
Institute of Politics/NECN October 2–3, 2002 40% 40%
RKM Research and Communications October 4, 2002 42% 43%
Institute of Politics/NECN October 24–27, 2002 39% 41% 5% 3% 3%
Boston Herald October 29, 2002 38% 44%
Boston Globe/WBZ November 1, 2002 40% 41%


Results by city and town

Romney was elected Governor in November 2002 with 50 percent of the vote over O'Brien, who received 45 percent of the vote.[50] Other candidates included Dr. Jill Stein (G), Carla Howell (L), and Barbara Johnson (I). Ten years later, Romney and Stein would run against each other in the 2012 U.S. presidential election, with Romney finishing second behind incumbent Democratic President Barack Obama, and Stein placing fourth after Obama, Romney, and Libertarian Gary Johnson.

Romney's victory method was established by performing strongly with the Republican base vote in the state, capturing many independent voters in the belt between Route 128 and I-495, almost running even in smaller working-class cities, and holding down Democratic margins in large urban areas.[2][4] The conclusion represented the fourth win in a row for Republicans in the state gubernatorial contest.[8]

Kerry Healey was elected Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts. She defeated Chris Gabrieli, Tony Lorenzen, Rich Aucoin, and Joe Schebel.

Massachusetts gubernatorial election, 2002
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Mitt Romney (Kerry Healey) 1,091,988 49.77 – 1.04
Democratic Shannon O'Brien (Chris Gabrieli) 985,981 44.94 – 2.44
Green-Rainbow Jill Stein (Tony Lorenzen) 76,530 3.49 + 3.49
Libertarian Carla Howell (Rich Aucoin) 23,044 1.05 – 0.64
Independent Barbara C. Johnson (Joe Schebel) 15,335 0.70 + 0.70
Write-in All others 1,301 0.06 -.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[edit]


  1. ^ "Massachusetts gubernatorial election, 2002". 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x 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. ^ a b c Butterfield, Fox (June 8, 2002). "Republican's Candidacy Is Challenged By Democrats". The New York Times. 
  10. ^ Massachusetts Ballot Law Commission Decision (June 25, 2002) via Scribd (another copy is available from the CNN content delivery network).
  11. ^ Mcelhenny, John (Associated Press)"Romney defends right to run for governor" Portsmouth Herald, Tuesday, June 18, 2002. Retrieved July 12, 2012.
  12. ^ Osnos, Evan (June 25, 2002). "Mass. board confirms GOP gubernatorial candidate's residency". Chicago Tribune. 
  13. ^ Belluck, Pam. "Massachusetts Ballot Panel Allows Race By Republican" The New York Times (Page A-17), June 26, 2002.
  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. ^ a b Silberman, Ellen J. (September 21, 2001). "ProQuest Archiver: Titles". Boston Herald. Retrieved May 28, 2017. 
  18. ^ Guarino, David R. (November 24, 2001). "Credit cut; Registry KOs popular charge card service". Boston Herald. 
  19. ^ Holmes, Rick (January 9, 2002). "Turnpike hearings deserve open road". Boston Herald. Retrieved 18 March 2011. 
  20. ^ "Romney taps Healey as his running mate". Worcester Telegram & Gazette. April 4, 2002. 
  21. ^ Tutalo, Frank (April 4, 2002). "Healey's candidacy, Guerriero's withdrawal, shake up Lt. Governor's race". Harvard Hillside. 
  22. ^ Frank Phillips; Stephanie Ebbert (April 3, 2002). "GOP'S No. 2 Race Takes a Twist". Boston Globe. 
  23. ^ Fenn, Jennifer (April 4, 2002). "Some in GOP miffed at Mitt". The Sun. 
  24. ^ Johnson, Glen (May 15, 2001). "Prospective Candidates Walk a Fine Line on Moakley Seat". Boston Globe. Retrieved 4 October 2011. 
  25. ^ "The 9th: Are we there yet?". Boston Herald. July 7, 2001. Retrieved 18 March 2011. 
  26. ^ Keane, Jr., Thomas M. (June 7, 2002). "Convention system misses on all fronts". Boston Herald. 
  27. ^ a b Klein, Rick (September 26, 2002). "New Ads, 'Work Days' Show Down-to-Earth Candidate". The Boston Globe.  Also available as "Mitt takes his shirt off as campaign heats up", Deseret News, September 27, 2002.
  28. ^ a b c d Bayles, Fred (October 16, 2002). "Romney may be losing his touch in Mass". USA Today. 
  29. ^ 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. 
  30. ^ Kessler, Glenn (January 20, 2012), "Fact checking the CNN debate in Charleston", The Washington Post, retrieved 2012-01-23 
  31. ^ Barone and Cohen, The Almanac of American Politics 2004, p. 772.
  32. ^ 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.
  33. ^ "'Mass. moderate' insult has local Republicans wincing". The Boston Globe. January 10, 2012. 
  34. ^ Karl, Jonathan (March 2, 2012). "In '02 Romney touted D.C. connections, federal funds". ABC News. 
  35. ^ 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. 
  36. ^ "Gabrieli surpasses spending record" Brian C. Mooney Boston Globe; August 22, 2006. Retrieved November 20, 2006.
  37. ^ Bunker, Ted (November 11, 2002). "Donor cash still floods campaigns". Boston Herald. 
  38. ^ Cillizza, Chris (July 5, 2007). "Romney's Data Cruncher". The Washington Post. 
  39. ^ a b Williams, Eric (October 31, 2002). "Political spoiler?". Cape Cod Times. 
  40. ^ McConville, Christine (October 13, 2002). "Green Party Line Colors Governor's Race Debate". Boston Globe. 
  41. ^ a b Gitell, Seth (October 10, 2002). "Jill Stein won the debate". Boston Phoenix. Archived from the original on 28 February 2012. Retrieved 6 April 2012. 
  42. ^ "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. 
  43. ^ Marantz, Steve (October 2, 2002). "Judge keeps third party candidates on sideline". Boston Herald. Retrieved 6 April 2012. 
  44. ^ a b "Former Presidents Entering Fray". WCVB-TV Boston. Hearst Television, Inc. Archived from the original on 26 December 2002. Retrieved 6 April 2012. 
  45. ^ "Bilingual ed produces stark divide". Worcester Telegram & Gazette. October 6, 2002. 
  46. ^ a b c "Gubernatorial Candidates Square Off In Debate". WCVB-TV Boston. Hearst Television, Inc. Retrieved 6 April 2012. [permanent dead link]
  47. ^ a b McNamara, Eileen (October 27, 2002). "Clock ticking for O'Brien". Boston Globe. Retrieved 6 April 2012. 
  48. ^ Carey, Mary (November 2, 2002). "O'Brien fuels local political scene". Hampshire Gazette. Retrieved 6 April 2012. 
  49. ^ Belkin, Douglas (November 6, 2002). "Minor Candidates Have Little Impact". Boston Globe. 
  50. ^ "2002 Election Results, Governor" ' Retrieved November 1, 2006.

External links[edit]

Campaign sites