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|November 5, 2002|
|Nominee||Josiah Bartlet||Robert Ritchie|
|Home state||New Hampshire||Florida|
|Running mate||John Hoynes||Jeff Heston|
|Presidential election results map. Red denotes states won by Ritchie/Heston, Blue denotes those won by Bartlet/Hoynes. Each number represents the electoral votes a state gave to one candidate.|
The 2002 United States Presidential Election took place on that year's 5th of November. It was a contest between the rival candidates of the large political parties, President Josiah Bartlet, and Florida Governor Robert Ritchie. Bartlet beat Ritchie in a 39-state landslide after a commanding performance in the 2002 Presidential debate.
Incumbent President Josiah Bartlet of New Hampshire was the unanimous nominee of the Democratic Party. When Bartlet disclosed to the nation that he hid his multiple sclerosis during the 1998 Presidential Election, it was believed he would not seek reelection as a result of the ensuing scandal. However, during a live press conference on the night of his disclosure in May 2001, some 18 months before the election, he announced in no uncertain terms his intention to seek a second term, saying "Yeah, and I'm gonna win." Indiana Governor Jack Buckland appeared to be considering challenging the President in primary elections, which worried the White House since Buckland was considered more conservative than Bartlet. He was eventually talked out of it by Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman in exchange for being named Secretary of Labor in the second Bartlet Administration.
Incumbent Vice President John Hoynes of Texas was renominated as President Bartlet's running mate. Before the election there had been talk of replacing Hoynes on the ticket, due to opinion polls that reflected that Governor Ritchie's candidacy would deny the Bartlet/Hoynes ticket the South, particularly Texas, Georgia and Florida, two of three states which Bartlet had won four years before, and delivered him victory. Campaign staff briefly considered choosing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Percy Fitzwallace as a replacement VP candidate, due to his reputation as a Vietnam veteran and a defense hawk and due to the calculation that a black running mate would increase black turnout and deliver Louisiana, Georgia and North Carolina to a Bartlet/Fitzwallace ticket. White House Chief of Staff Leo McGarry was also mentioned as a possibility (foreshadwing his eventual selection as Matt Santos' running mate in 2006). But there was a concern that Hoynes being rejected from the ticket might lead to him declaring a third-party candidacy, thereby acting as a spoiler and throwing the election to Ritchie, although Hoynes himself was supportive of the decision to reconsider his position on the ticket. Ultimately, Bartlet himself vetoed the moves, making it clear he wanted Hoynes by writing four words on a piece of paper: "Because I could die."
For the Iowa caucuses, President Bartlet stated that there were six Republican candidates; three governors, two senators and "the head of the church of 'I Hate You'" (presumably meaning a candidate who was a far-right reverend, perhaps Reverend Don Butler).
A politician named Simon was believed to be the favourite at the start of the primary campaign. But it was two-term Governor Robert Ritchie of Florida, believed to be an outsider at the start of the race, who came through and won the nomination. Helped by a shock win in the Iowa caucus, and as other candidates dropped out, Ritchie had the race won just after Super Tuesday. Ritchie picked Jeff Heston as his running mate.
Minnesota Senator Howard Stackhouse ran as a third-party candidate, however he convinced congressional leaders that he'd drop out of the race and endorse President Bartlet before the first debate. In a poll of likely voters, Stackhouse polled at about 4% in New York and California, and was only on the ballot in 25 other states. As promised, the morning after Red Mass he dropped out and endorsed President Bartlet.
|United States presidential election|