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The 2002 Florida gubernatorial election took place on 5 November 2002 for the post of Governor of Florida. Incumbent Republican governor Jeb Bush defeated Democratic candidate Bill McBride. Bush became the first Republican governor of Florida to win re-election to a second term.

Republican nomination

Jeb Bush announced that he would run for re-election in June 2001 after first being elected in 1998.

Democratic primary

In the Democratic primary Bill McBride, a lawyer from Tampamarker won a narrow upset victory over former United States Attorney General Janet Reno with State Senator Daryl Jones coming in third.

Reno led throughout much of the campaign for the Democratic nomination with much better name recognition at first. However in the final few weeks McBride gained significantly to gain a victory by less than five thousand votes.

Reno disputed the results after the primary was marred by problems. Several areas had technical glitches and delayed openings of the poll especially in Miami-Dademarker and Browardmarker counties, both of which Reno was strong in. As a result of the problems Governor Bush extended the polls by two hours.

Candidate # of votes % of votes
Bill McBride 602,352 44.4
Janet Reno 597,558 44.0
Daryl Jones 157,107 11.6
Source: 2002 Gubernatorial Democratic Primary Election Results - Florida


McBride's campaign focused on the importance of public education, supporting policies such as teacher pay rises and less emphasis on standardized tests. McBride was helped towards the end of the campaign by visits from national Democratic figures such as Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Jesse Jackson.

However President George W. Bush made numerous visits to Florida to support his brother for re-election. Bush had a strong fundraising advantage over McBride in what was seen as one of the pivotal races in the 2002 midterm elections. Republican adverts targeted McBride as a failed lawyer and as a tax and spender.

The two main candidates faced each other in two debates on 27 September and 22 October in the most expensive Florida gubernatorial election yet. Polls towards the end of the campaign showed Bush with a lead over McBride. Department of Justicemarker observers were stationed at some of the polls, but unlike the problems during the 2000 presidential election and the Democratic primary, voting went smoothly.

At the same time as the election an initiative was passed to limit class sizes. This had been opposed by Bush due to the cost of implementing it, but had been supported by McBride.

Election results


See also

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