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The Candidates

Governor / Lieutenant Governor
Shannon O'Brien / Chris Gabrieli: The Democrats' entry to the field. After entering a primary contested by five major gubernatorial candidates, former Secretary of the Treasury Shannon O'Brien emerged victorious with 33% of the vote. The division of the Massachusetts left is sure to hurt her chances of election, though. Compound this with the fact that O'Brien is not seen as a charismatic candidate, and Romney looks like the best bet for 2002.

Mitt Romney / Kerry Healey: A Massachusetts Republican would still pass for center-left in much of the country, so Romney's ticket is hardly that of the right wing. A charismatic bastard, Mitt Romney may be the popular choice in a state that elects a surprising number of GOP governors. The Republicans united strongly behind him in the primary, another good sign.

Carla Howell / Rich Aucoin: Howell / Aucoin is the Libertarian ticket, and not for the first time. Carla Howell hasn't gotten much press in the past, but this year she's a major figure, for one reason. On the Massachusetts ballot this year, she authored Question 1, a proposition to entirely eliminate the state income tax. Most Massachusetts residents are shocked that the question made it on the ballot at all, and Carla loves it. She's getting more press than ever before, as a result. Still, she's an incredibly long shot.

Jill Stein / Tony Lorenzen: If the Green Party has one place where it makes sense to field a serious gubernatorial candidate, it's Massachusetts. Nonetheless, Stein hasn't made a great impression on the populace (seeing as how I initially forgot to include her in this writeup). Nonetheless, the Green Party has a surprising amount of general support around here, so they make a dent in the political scene.

Barbara Johnson / Joe Schebel: Barbara Johnson runs on a rather confusing unity campaign, as an independent. She opposes partisan politics and the gender war. Her site triumphantly proclaims "BJ for Governor."

The Issues

Education: Education reform is big in Massachusetts right now. The MCAS, a much-hated assessment test, has been causing grief to students and administrators alike by forcing all students to pass a standardized knowledge test to graduate high school. Curriculums have shifted wildly. Two years ago, a shocking 45% of seniors failed the mathematics portion of the test. Romney supports the MCAS, while O'Brien hasn't made a definite stand either way on the issue.

Health Care: The buzzword for this election. A Patients' Bill of Rights proposition appeared on the ballot two years ago; support for it was broad, although it was ultimately rejected, on account of its poor wording. Romney does not support any major change in the health care system, while O'Brien wants to cut health care costs for seniors and urban families. Hysteria on this issue has been a bit ridiculous (see The Ad, below).

GLBT Civil Rights: A key division between the two lies here. O'Brien supports gay and lesbian civil unions, while Romney opposes them, on a moral basis. This issue is one that could earn O'Brien major points with the voters, and she's flouting it proportionally. It's earned Romney his share of boos.

Abortion: While not a flash point this year, abortion has been something of a sore spot between the two major candidates. Romney, contrary to his party line, is pro-choice. O'Brien has been known to flip-flop on the issue, although she currently stands on the pro-choice side of the line as well. (O'Brien's sudden change in stance from pro-life was pointed out by an astute reporter, to the amusement of the state.)

The Ad

This is more of an off-topic footnote; Shannon O'Brien recently ran an anti-Romney add stating the impressive statistic: "Last year, Mitt Romney increased co-payments for workers in his office by 300%! Tell Mitt Romney that working families can't affor his health care plan." This is quite a striking advertisement, until you realize that co-payments generally run around $10. We're talking an increase of $50 to $60 a year in health care costs, tops. Hardly something that's breaking the backs of Romney's employees.

Conclusion

This campaign has been one of the most heated in recent history, with major players like George W. Bush and John McCain flying in to support Mitt Romney, as well as several Senators to support Shannon O'Brien. A recent Boston Globe poll (November 1, 2002) shows Romney trailing O'Brien by a mere 1% (with a 5% margin of error) with only four days until the election. This'll be updated after it's over.

The Results (added November 6, 2002)

Mitt Romney is the winner by an estimated five-point margin. Even if O'Brien had received the Green Party votes, the election still would've been his.

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