World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Massachusetts gubernatorial election, 1990


Massachusetts gubernatorial election, 1990

Massachusetts gubernatorial election, 1990

November 5, 1990

Nominee William Weld John Silber
Party Republican Democratic
Running mate Paul Cellucci Marjorie Clapprood
Popular vote 1,175,817 1,099,878
Percentage 50.19% 46.94%

Results by town. Red indicates towns carried by William Weld, blue indicates towns carried by John Silber.

Governor before election

Michael Dukakis

Elected Governor

William Weld

The 1990 Massachusetts gubernatorial election was held on November 6, 1990. Republican William Weld was elected Governor of Massachusetts for the first time. He beat Democrat John Silber to become the first Republican Governor of Massachusetts since 1975.


  • Primaries 1
    • Governor 1.1
      • Democratic 1.1.1
      • Republican 1.1.2
    • Lt. Governor 1.2
  • General election 2
  • Other races 3
  • References 4




Incumbent Governor Michael Dukakis did not run for a fourth term. Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Murphy, Boston University president John Silber, former Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General Francis X. Bellotti, and State Representative John H. Flood ran for the Democratic nomination.

Boston Mayor Raymond Flynn was a front-runner for the Democratic nomination, however on January 5, 1989, Flynn announced that he would not run for Governor.[1]

After Flynn's decision not to run, Murphy was the early frontrunner due to her strong name recognition and a solid base of liberal support. In July 1989, she led Bellotti 42% to 18% in a Boston Globe poll. That November, Bellotti had come within 2% of Murphy in another Boston Globe poll.[2]

In January, Silber entered the race and Bellotti ran his first wave of television ads. By this point, Bellotti had taken the lead in the race, polling 38% to Murphy's 20% and Silber's 16%.[2]

The Democratic Convention was held on June 2, 1990 at the Springfield Civic Center. On the first ballot, Bellotti received 42.9% of the vote, Murphy received 37%, Silber received 15.5%, and Flood received 4.5%. Silber's 15.5% gave him enough votes to remain on the ballot. On the second ballot, Bellotti won the convention with 51%, Murphy received 40%, and Flood received 8.5%. Flood was not able to stay on the ballot as he did not receive the necessary 15%.[3]

Murphy's campaign appeared to be badly hurt by the public perception that she was close to the unpopular Dukakis and therefore tried to make a break with the Dukakis Administration.[4][2] Dukakis twice postponed a trade mission to Europe because Murphy hinted at a news conference that she would execute her own economic plan while serving as acting governor.[4] After the incident, Murphy's unfavorable rating rose to 49% in a Boston Globe/WBZ-TV poll, compared to 38% a month earlier.[2]

A week before the primary, Evelyn Murphy dropped out of the race and threw her support to Bellotti.[5] Despite having Murphy's support and as high as a 15 point lead in the polls at one point during the campaign, Bellotti was upset by Silber, a political outsider who had run a provocative campaign filled with controversial statements known as "Silber Shockers".[6]

Massachusetts Democratic gubernatorial primary, 1990
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic John Silber 562,222 53.47%
Democratic Francis X. Bellotti 459,128 43.67%
Democratic Evelyn Murphy 30,054 2.86%


Former United States Attorney William Weld, State Representative Steven Pierce, former MDC Commissioner Guy Carbone, former Congressman Paul W. Cronin, and Marlborough resident Len Umina ran for the Republican nomination.

Many prominent Republicans, including Edward J. King to enter the race.[7][8] In October 1989, King announced that he would not run for Governor.[9]

Before the Republican Convention, Carbone dropped out of the Governor's race to run for Attorney General. Umina dropped out to run as an independent.

On September 30, 1989, State Senator Paul Cellucci, who had been considering a run for Governor announced that he would instead become William Weld's running mate.[10]

At the Republican Convention, Pierce received 2,672 votes (52.6%), Weld received 1,845 (36.3), and Cronin received 563 (11.1%).[11] Cronin was not able to run in the primary because he did not receive the 15% necessary to make the ballot.[12] Pierce received enough votes to have a "supermajority", which made Pierce the official nominee of the Republican Party.[11]

During the campaign, Weld attacked Pierce's anti-abortion stance while Pierce claimed that Weld had changed his position on abortion.[13] Pierce also touted his ability to win a House seat in a Democratic district, while Weld had lost to the Democratic front-runner for governor Francis Bellotti in the 1978 Attorney General's race.[13][14]

Despite losing the convention and trailing Pierce in the polls, Weld was able to come-from-behind and defeated Pierce in the Republican primary.

Massachusetts Republican gubernatorial primary, 1990
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican William Weld 270,319 60.56%
Republican Steven Pierce 176,070 39.44%

Lt. Governor

With incumbent Lt. Governor Evelyn Murphy running for Governor, State Senator William B. Golden and State Representatives Marjorie Clapprood and Nicholas Paleologos sought to replace her on the Democratic ticket. Clapprood easily won the nomination, defeating her nearest opponent by over 22%.

Massachusetts Democratic Lt. gubernatorial primary, 1990
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Marjorie Clapprood 498,241 52.02%
Democratic William B. Golden 283,719 29.62%
Democratic Nicholas Paleologos 175,558 18.33%

State Senator Paul Cellucci, Weld's running mate, defeated State Representative Peter G. Torkildsen, Pierce's running mate, for the Republican nomination.

Massachusetts Republican Lt. gubernatorial election, 1990
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Paul Cellucci 241,354 59.41%
Republican Peter G. Torkildsen 164,732 40.55%

General election

William Weld defeated John Silber to become the state's first Republican Governor since Francis W. Sargent. Silber's blunt personality and controversial comments led many Democrats to vote for Weld. [15]

Massachusetts gubernatorial election, 1990
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican William Weld (Paul Cellucci) 1,175,817 50.19%
Democratic John Silber (Marjorie Clapprood) 1,099,878 46.94%
Independent High Tech Leonard Umina (Lawrence DeBerry) 63,703 2.68%

Other races


  1. ^ Howe, Peter J. (January 7, 1989). "Flynn's Move to Skip Governor's Race Creates a Political Logjam in Boston". Boston Globe. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d Wilkie, Curtis (September 11, 1990). "Murphy Quits Race, Backs Bellotti". The Boston Globe. 
  3. ^ "Massachusetts Dems pick Bellotti for governor at picketed session". Associated Press. June 3, 1990. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Butterfield, Fox (September 7, 1990). "Dukakis Accuses No. 2 of Plotting a Coup". The New York Times. Retrieved December 20, 2013. 
  5. ^ Fox Butterfield (September 11, 1990). "Dukakis Antagonist Abandons Primary Race". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-06-18. 
  6. ^ Fox Butterfield (September 19, 1990). "Silber Wins Democratic Contest in Massachusetts". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-06-18. 
  7. ^ Lehigh, Scot (October 13, 1989). "War Chest is Started and 'King '90' Buttons Ordered". Boston Globe. Retrieved 20 April 2011. 
  8. ^ Lehigh, Scot (September 30, 1989). "Some Say Sununu's Push for a King Candidacy Could Backfire". Boston Globe. Retrieved 20 April 2011. 
  9. ^ Lehigh, Scot (October 17, 1989). "King Announces He Will Not Run for Governor". Boston Globe. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  10. ^ Phillips, Frank (September 30, 1989). "Cellucci, Weld Join Forces". Boston Globe. Retrieved 20 April 2011. 
  11. ^ a b Weitzman, Erik M. (March 13, 1990). "GOP Takes Center Ring at Convention Circus". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  12. ^ Wilson, David B. (March 25, 1990). "Something is Awry in 15-Percent Rule". Boston Globe. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  13. ^ a b Lehigh, Scot (December 16, 1989). "Weld, Pierce Trade Barbs Over Abortion Positions". Boston Globe. Retrieved 20 April 2011. 
  14. ^ Turner, Robert L. (March 8, 1990). "An L-Word That Worries Some Republicans". Boston Globe. Retrieved 20 April 2011. 
  15. ^ "THE 1990 ELECTIONS: STATE BY STATE; Northeast". The New York Times. November 8, 1990. Retrieved 2010-06-18. 
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.