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Republican candidate Mike Huckabee

The 2002 Arkansas gubernatorial election took place on 5 November 2002 for the post of Governor of Arkansas. Incumbent Republican governor Mike Huckabee defeated Democratic State Treasurer Jimmie Lou Fisher.


Republican primary

Mike Huckabee filed to run for re-election for a second full term in March 2002 at the same time as his wife, Janet Huckabee, filed to run for Secretary of State of Arkansas.[1] They became the first governor and spouse to run on the same ballot for state offices.[2] Huckabee easily won the Republican primary on May 21 defeating retired banker Doyle Cannady.[1][3]

Democratic primary

In the Democratic primary State Treasurer Jimmie Lou Fisher easily defeated lesser known opponents.[1]

Candidate # of votes  % of votes
Jimmie Lou Fisher 176,126 63.1
Joe Holmes 77,516 27.8
Jim Billie 25,455 9.1

Source: 2002 Gubernatorial Democratic Primary Election Results - Arkansas


At the start of the election campaign Huckabee was expected to win the election easily with a poll in July showing him 16% ahead.[4][5] Fisher began the campaign by unveiling plans on issues such as prescription drugs, education and domestic violence.[5] She also attacked Huckabee for mismanagement and likened him to a dictator for his response to criticism over cost overruns in a new computer system.[6][7]

Huckabee's record as Governor became an issue in the election with Fisher's campaign attacking Huckabee for granting clemency to violent criminals, including a rapist.[7] However Huckabee responded that he had signed more death warrants and executed more people than any other governor of Arkansas.[8] Huckabee called on voters to support him due to the progress in education, health care and the economy during his period as governor.[9] Huckabee also criticised Fisher for receiving help from former governor Bill Clinton, describing him as having had his turn.[10]

Huckabee's lead in the polls declined as the election neared, with a poll in September showing him with a 12% lead and one in mid-October showing him 10% ahead.[5][9] Near the end of October a poll showed Huckabee only 2% ahead of Fisher.[7] Huckabee's campaign was hurt by his wife's struggling campaign to become Arkansas secretary of state; voters were concerned over the couple holding too much power, with polls showing Janet Huckabee over 20% behind.[7] In late October a fundraising letter from Huckabee's campaign described it as in crisis.[7] Huckabee was also sued by his daughter Sarah in his role as governor in a lawsuit he wanted to lose. This came after a state court ordered that students should be removed from the voting rolls in Arkadelphia. Huckabee suggested his daughter join a federal lawsuit which succeeded in getting the students restored.[11]

Election results

Huckabee won the election by 53% to 47%, however his wife was decisively defeated in the Secretary of State election. After his victory Huckabee received a call from President George W. Bush to congratulate him.[12]

2002 gubernatorial election, Arkansas[13]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Mike Huckabee 427,082 53.0 -6.8
Democratic Jimmie Lou Fisher 378,250 47.0 +8.3
Write-ins 364 0.05 +0.05
Majority 48,832 6.0 -15.1
Turnout 805,696
Republican hold Swing


  1. ^ a b c "Nation and world news". The Topeka Capital-Journal. 2002-03-27. Retrieved 2008-08-25.  
  2. ^ "Wife of Arkansas Governor Also Running for State Office". The New York Times. 2002-03-17. Retrieved 2008-08-25.  
  3. ^ "Former Philly mayor wins Pa. gubernatorial primary". USA Today. 2002-05-22. Retrieved 2008-08-25.  
  4. ^ "Huckabee Goes Back to Work for 4 More Years". KAIT. 2002-11-06. Retrieved 2008-09-17.  
  5. ^ a b c "Fisher Unveils Domestic Abuse Plan". KAIT. 2002-09-24. Retrieved 2008-09-17.  
  6. ^ "Fisher Calls Huckabee a Dictator". KAIT. 2002-10-01. Retrieved 2008-09-17.  
  7. ^ a b c d e "THE 2002 CAMPAIGN: THE STATES; Wedding Ring Is a Millstone in 2 Arkansas Races". The New York Times. 2002-10-31. Retrieved 2008-09-17.  
  8. ^ "Fisher Launches Into Huckabee Over Commutation". KAIT. 2002-10-08. Retrieved 2008-10-20.  
  9. ^ a b "Polling Shows Huckabee Ahead". KAIT. 2002-10-14. Retrieved 2008-10-20.  
  10. ^ "Clinton's campaign role: Raise money, avoid the spotlight". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-10-20.  
  11. ^ "THE 2002 CAMPAIGN: VOTING DISPUTES; With Suit, Governor's Daughter Gets a Spotlight". The New York Times. 2002-11-01. Retrieved 2008-10-20.  
  12. ^ "Hard Work Ahead, Governor Tells Lawmakers". Arkansas News Bureau. 2002-11-07. Retrieved 2008-09-15.  
  13. ^ "2002 Gubernatorial General Election Results - Arkansas". Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections. Retrieved 2008-08-23.  


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