2002 Florida gubernatorial election

← 1998 November 5, 2002 2006 →
Jeb Bush 1999 (cropped).jpg
Nominee Jeb Bush Bill McBride
Party Republican Democratic
Running mate Frank Brogan Tom Rossin
Popular vote 2,856,845 2,201,427
Percentage 56.0% 43.2%

2002 Florida gubernatorial election results map by county.svg
County results
Bush:      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%
McBride:      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%

Governor before election

Jeb Bush

Elected Governor

Jeb Bush

The 2002 Florida gubernatorial election took place on November 5, 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.[2][3] This election was the last time until 2022 a Florida gubernatorial candidate won the general election by double digits.

Republican nomination

Jeb Bush announced that he would run for re-election in June 2001 after first being elected in 1998.[4] Bush was unopposed for the GOP nomination, and spent the summer amassing a war chest of over $5.6 million towards his re-election campaign.[5]

Democratic primary




Reno led throughout much of the campaign for the Democratic nomination, boasting name recognition and employing a grassroots strategy. In early June, she led McBride in the polls by a margin of 53%-25%,[7] but trailed in a hypothetical head-to-head against Bush. Reno's primary campaign was dubbed the "Little red pickup truck tour", so-named because she toured the state in her 1999 Ford Ranger.[7][8]

Over the summer, Reno's lead dwindled. McBride, backed by big money donors, was able to exploit Reno's paltry war chest, and sometime aloof campaign.[5] Reno's connections to the Clinton Administration, and her handling of both the Waco siege and the Elián González affair were frequent topics in the primary.[5]

In the final few weeks, McBride narrowed the gap to a dead heat going into the September 10 primary.[9]


County results
County results

McBride won the nomination by less than 4,800 votes.[9]

Democratic primary results[10]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Bill McBride 602,352 44.4
Democratic Janet Reno 597,558 44.0
Democratic Daryl Jones 157,107 11.6
Total votes 1,357,017 100


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-Dade and Broward counties, both of which Reno performed strongly in.[4] As a result of the problems, Governor Bush kept the polls open for two additional hours.[11]

McBride selected Tom Rossin, minority leader of the Florida Senate, as his running mate.[12]


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 former President Bill Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore and Jesse Jackson.[2] Though McBride himself did not make the topic an issue of his campaign, nationwide Democrats saw the race as an opportunity to avenge Al Gore's controversial loss in Florida during the 2000 presidential election and the subsequent recount.[13] Likewise Republicans saw this race a preview of 2004.

President George W. Bush made numerous visits to Florida to support his brother for re-election.[3] Bush had a strong fundraising advantage over McBride in what was seen as one of the pivotal races in the 2002 midterm elections.[2] Republican adverts targeted McBride as a failed lawyer and as a tax and spender.[14]

The two main candidates faced each other in two debates on 27 September and 22 October in the most expensive Florida gubernatorial election yet.[15][16][17] Polls towards the end of the campaign showed Bush with a lead over McBride.[14][16] Department of Justice observers were stationed at some of the polls,[2] but unlike the problems during the 2000 presidential election and the Democratic primary, voting went smoothly.[18]

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.[18]


Source Ranking As of
The Cook Political Report[19] Tossup October 31, 2002
Sabato's Crystal Ball[20] Lean R November 4, 2002


Poll source Date(s)
of error
Bush (R)
McBride (D)
Other /
SurveyUSA November 2–4, 2002 792 (LV) ± 3.6% 45% 39% 5%

Election results

2002 gubernatorial election, Florida[21]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Jeb Bush (incumbent) 2,856,845 56.0 +0.7
Democratic Bill McBride 2,201,427 43.2 -1.5
No Party Affiliation Bob Kunst 42,039 0.8 +0.8
Write-ins 270 0.01 +0.0
Majority 655,418 12.8 +2.3
Turnout 5,100,581 54.8 +6.6
Republican hold Swing


  1. ^ Key:
    A – all adults
    RV – registered voters
    LV – likely voters
    V – unclear


  1. ^ "November 5, 2002 General Election". Florida Department of State. Retrieved 2022-05-15.
  2. ^ a b c d "Jeb Bush Makes History In Florida". CBS News. 2002-11-06. Retrieved 2008-05-22.
  3. ^ a b Canedy, Dana (2002-11-07). "THE 2002 ELECTIONS: FLORIDA; Bush Looks to 2nd Term As Analysts Point to 2004". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-25.
  4. ^ a b "Gov. Jeb Bush says he's eager for a second term". polkonline.com. 2001-06-09. Archived from the original on February 10, 2005. Retrieved 2008-05-22.
  5. ^ a b c "Reno rocks". The Guardian. August 11, 2002. Retrieved October 14, 2014.
  6. ^ "Frankel beats Daves for West Palm Mayor". Boca Raton News. Associated Press. 12 Mar 2003. Retrieved 28 Feb 2022.
  7. ^ a b "Reno kicks off tour in red pickup once again". The Gainesville Sun. September 1, 2002. Retrieved October 14, 2014.
  8. ^ "Reno Starts Little Red Pickup Tour". Fox News. February 26, 2002. Retrieved October 14, 2014.
  9. ^ a b "McBride declares victory; Reno asks review". CNN. 2002-09-12. Archived from the original on 2008-03-21. Retrieved 2008-05-22.
  10. ^ "Florida Department of State - Election Results". Archived from the original on 2011-07-18. Retrieved 2019-08-26.
  11. ^ "Gov. Bush extends voting in Florida primary". CNN. 2002-09-10. Archived from the original on 2008-01-20. Retrieved 2008-05-22.
  12. ^ "McBride introduces his running mate". Gainesville Sun. Associated Press. Retrieved 2021-04-07.[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ Seelye, Katharine (November 2, 2002). "The 2002 Campaign: The Governors; Cast Reassembled, Florida Revives a Drama From 2000". The New York Times. Retrieved October 14, 2014.
  14. ^ a b "Poll shows Bush with open road to victory". South Florida Sun-Sentinel. 2002-10-31. Retrieved 2008-05-25.
  15. ^ "Bush, McBride debate tonight". St. Petersburg Times. 2002-09-27. Retrieved 2008-05-25.
  16. ^ a b "Bush, McBride Face Off In Final Debate". Associated Press. 2002-10-22. Retrieved 2008-05-25.
  17. ^ "Bush Bets His Popularity And Scores a Big Victory". The Washington Post. 2002-11-06. Retrieved 2008-05-25.[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ a b Canedy, Dana (2002-11-06). "THE 2002 ELECTIONS: THE FLORIDA VOTE; Bush Wins 2nd Term With Surge". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-25.
  19. ^ "Governor Updated October 31, 2002 | The Cook Political Report". The Cook Political Report. October 31, 2002. Archived from the original on December 8, 2002. Retrieved September 18, 2018.
  20. ^ "Governors Races". www.centerforpolitics.org. November 4, 2002. Archived from the original on December 12, 2002. Retrieved September 18, 2018.
  21. ^ "2002 Gubernatorial General Election Results - Florida". Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections. Retrieved 2008-05-22.

See also