1990 Florida gubernatorial election

← 1986 November 6, 1990 1994 →
Bobmartinez (cropped).jpg
Nominee Lawton Chiles Bob Martinez
Party Democratic Republican
Running mate Buddy MacKay J. Allison DeFoor
Popular vote 1,995,206 1,535,068
Percentage 56.5% 43.5%

1990 Florida gubernatorial election results map by county.svg
County results
Chiles:      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%
Martinez:      50–60%      60–70%

Governor before election

Bob Martinez

Elected Governor

Lawton Chiles

The 1990 Florida gubernatorial election took place on November 6, 1990. Incumbent Republican Governor Bob Martinez ran for a second term in office, but was defeated by Democratic challenger Lawton Chiles, a former U.S. Senator. As of 2022, this remains the last time in which an incumbent Florida Governor lost reelection.[original research?]


Incumbent Republican Governor Bob Martinez, who was just the second member of his party elected Governor of Florida after Reconstruction, was deeply unpopular. His job approval rating had sunk to around 24% after, in 1989, he called the Florida Legislature into special session in an effort to pass pro-life laws. None of the governor's proposals made it out of committee.

Republican primary

Republican primary results[1]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Bob Martinez (incumbent) 460,718 69.00
Republican Marlene Woodson Howard 132,565 19.80
Republican John Davis 34,720 5.20
Republican Andy Martin 28,591 4.30
Republican Warren H. Folks 11,587 1.70
Total votes 668,181 100.00

Democratic primary

The Democratic primary was a contest between former U.S. Senator Lawton Chiles and U.S. Representative Bill Nelson.

The 60-year-old Chiles, who retired after three terms from the Senate in 1989 after serious health problems, was challenged by the younger 47-year-old Nelson, who questioned his health in the campaign and presented himself as alternative.

This, however, backfired on Nelson and cost him the election; the elderly population in Florida took great offense to Nelson's attacks and, in turn, voted for Chiles.[2]

Democratic primary results[3]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Lawton Chiles 746,325 69.5
Democratic Bill Nelson 327,731 30.5
Total votes 1,074,056 100.0

Campaign finances

General election

Florida gubernatorial election, 1990[6]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Lawton Chiles 1,995,206 56.51% +11.07
Republican Bob Martinez (incumbent) 1,535,068 43.48% -11.09
Write-in 597 0.0% N/A
Total votes 3,530,871 100.00% N/A
Democratic gain from Republican


  1. ^ "Florida Department of State - Election Results".
  2. ^ Our Campaigns - FL. Governor - D Primary Race - Sep 04, 1990
  3. ^ "Florida Department of State - Election Results".
  4. ^ Our Campaigns - FL Governor Race - Nov 06, 1990
  5. ^ Our Campaigns - FL Governor Race - Nov 06, 1990
  6. ^ "Florida Department of State - Election Results".