Filing Deadline: May 5
Nov. 4, 1998 Acting Gov. Paul Cellucci (R) won his bid for a full term as governor, beating Attorney General Scott Harshbarger (D). Cellucci won 51 percent and Harshbarger won 47 percent, with 93 percent of precincts reporting.
Debates: Cellucci and Harshbarger met three times this fall for slugfests over taxes, education, the death penalty and their fitness for office. Cellucci portrayed Harshbarger as a "tax-and-spend liberal," criticizing him because he didn't promise not to raise taxes. Harshbarger shot back, accusing Cellucci of vetoing a bill to raise tobacco taxes to fund children's health care because he wanted to pacify the tobacco industry. Cellucci likened Harshbarger to former governor Michael Dukakis in an early October appearance. Harshbarger responded, saying Cellucci is no Weld.
Issues: The two also fought over education and health care. Cellucci said he backs teachers, though he supported firing teachers who fail standards tests twice. The Massachusetts Teachers Association backed Harshbarger, airing a TV spot praising his plan to hire more teachers and put computers in classrooms. Harshbarger pledged to expand health care and worker training, and went after Cellucci for not appointing an HMO ombudsman.
Then Harshbarger got personal. He pointed to Cellucci's $750,000 personal debt as proof that the acting governor was the wrong person to manage Massachusetts's finances. Cellucci's camp erupted, saying Cellucci ran up the debt remodeling his house and sending his children to college. Cellucci's wife jumped into the fray, saying Harshbarger's tactic violated their family's privacy, and Cellucci's spokesperson called the attorney general "a complete sleazebag."
Both candidates lined up supporters for the stump. Former Boston Democratic mayor Ray Flynn supported Cellucci, as did Weld and former president George Bush. First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.), a former gubernatorial candidate himself, threw their support to Harshbarger.
Polls: A poll conducted Oct. 27-28 for the Boston Globe and WBZ television showed Cellucci with 46 percent and Harshbarger with 41 percent a statistical dead heat with the survey's 5-percent margin of error. Nine percent of those surveyed said they were undecided. A Boston Herald poll conducted at the same time showed Cellucci with 47 percent, Harshbarger with 38 percent and 15 percent undecided. That survey also had a 5-percent margin of error.
Advertising: Hillary Rodham Clinton lent Harshbarger some help, taping an ad for him Oct. 28. Cellucci faced criticism from members of the Wicca faith, who protested his ad making light of Harshbarger's 1992 efforts to help Salem police protect local witches. Cellucci hit Harshbarger with an ad criticizing him for bringing Cellucci's personal debt into the campaign.
Fund-Raising: According to published reports, Cellucci and Harshbarger raised more than $11 million for this race. Cellucci spent $6.2 million through mid-October, and Harshbarger spent $4.9 million. Mid-October finance reports showed Cellucci with more than $700,000 left in the bank, and Harshbarger with $346,000.
Lisa Todorovich, washingtonpost.com
Lisa Todorovich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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