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Michigan gubernatorial election, 2002

Michigan gubernatorial election, 2002

November 5, 2002

Turnout 3,177,565
Candidate Jennifer Granholm Dick Posthumus
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 1,631,276 1,504,755
Percentage 51.4% 47.4%

Governor before election

John Engler

Elected Governor

Jennifer Granholm

The Michigan gubernatorial election of 2002 was one of the 36 United States gubernatorial elections held on November 5, 2002. Incumbent Republican John Engler, after serving three terms, had stepped down and was not running; his lieutenant governor Dick Posthumus, also a Republican, ran in his place. Jennifer Granholm, then Attorney General of Michigan, ran on the Democratic Party ticket. Douglas Campbell ran on the Green Party ticket, and Joseph M. Pilchak[1] ran on the Constitution Party[2] ticket.

John D. Cherry ran on the Democratic party ballot for lieutenant governor.

Granholm won with 51% of the vote, followed by Posthumus' 48%, Campbell with 1%, and Pilchak with less than 1%.[3][4] This made Granholm the first female Michigan governor and the first Democratic governor of Michigan in 12 years.[5]


  • Primaries 1
    • Republican Primary 1.1
    • Democratic Primary 1.2
  • Election campaign 2
    • Kilpatrick memo controversy 2.1
  • Election results 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Republican Primary

Republican primary results[6]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Dick Posthumus 474,804 81.39%
Republican Joe Schwarz 108,581 18.61%
Totals 583,385 100.00%

Democratic Primary

Granholm defeated former Governor James Blanchard and House Democratic Whip David Bonior in the Democratic primary. Granholm was the first woman ever nominated by a major party to be Michigan governor.[7]

Granholm was accused in the 2002 Democratic primary of several allegations of cronyism while working as Wayne County Corporation Counsel. Her husband, Daniel Mulhern, had received several contracts for his leadership training company shortly after Granholm left her position as a Wayne County Corporation Counsel in 1998. He received nearly $300,000 worth of contracts, despite being the highest bidder for one of those contracts. Opponents criticized Granholm supporters for engaging in cronyism and giving contracts to her husband immediately after leaving county employment. Granholm and her supporters responded that no ethical violations occurred and that Mulhern had earned the contracts on his own merits.[8]

Democratic primary results[9]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jennifer Graholm 499,129 47.69%
Democratic David Bonior 292,958 27.99%
Democratic James Blanchard 254,586 24.32%
Totals 1,046,673 100.00%

Election campaign

Posthumus, who had been previous Governor Engler's Lieutenant Governor, ran his general election campaign promising to maintain the Engler legacy of lower taxes, more jobs and better schools.[10]

Granholm promised change, running as a tough crime-fighter and consumer advocate. Granholm criticized the Engler administration for coming into office with a budget surplus and leaving with a deficit.[10]

Kilpatrick memo controversy

In the biggest event of the election, Posthumus released a memo from Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick asking for more appointments for blacks and jobs for Detroit contractors in a Granholm administration. Posthumus pointed to the memo as an example of Democratic Party corruption. Granholm, however, denied ever receiving the memo and said she wouldn't have agreed to it anyway. She said Posthumus was trying to be racially divisive.[10]

Election results

Michigan gubernatorial election, 2002[11]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Jennifer Granholm 1,633,796 51.42% +13.64%
Republican Dick Posthumus 1,506,104 47.40% -14.81%
Green Douglas Campbell 25,236 0.79%
Constitution Joseph Pilchak 12,411 0.39%
Write-ins 18 0.00%
Majority 127,692 4.02% -20.41%
Turnout 3,177,565
Democratic gain from Republican


  1. ^ The Political Graveyard: Index to Politicians
  2. ^ The Constitution Party is still on the Michigan ballot as the United States Taxpayers' Party in Michigan. Although the party changed its name in 1999, the Michigan Bureau of Elections does not provide any mechanism for a political party changing its name.
  3. ^ Election 2002 - Governor. CNN.
  4. ^ 2002 Official Michigan General Election Results - Governor 4 Year Term (1) Position
  5. ^ Christian, Nichole M.; Cushman Jr, John H.; Day, Sherri; Dillon, Sam; Lewis, Neil A.; Pear, Robert; Pristin, Terry; Shenon, Philip; Steinberg, Jacques; Wayne, Leslie (7 November 2002). "THE 2002 ELECTIONS: MIDWEST; MICHIGAN".  
  6. ^
  7. ^ Longest-serving member of House wins fight of career. USA Today. Accessed 15 February 2009.
  8. ^ Selweski, Chad (January 13, 2002). "Granholm supporters helped her husband secure Wayne County contracts". Macomb Daily. Archived from the original on 2006-06-29. Retrieved 2006-11-13. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b c Granholm becomes Michigan's first female governor. USA Today. (Associated Press). Accessed 15 February 2009.
  11. ^

External links

  • 2002 Official Michigan General Candidate Listing
  • 2002 Official Michigan Primary Election Results
  • 2002 Official Michigan General Election Results
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