|☜ 1998 • • 2006 ☞|
The 2002 Democratic Presidential Primaries were held to determine the Democratic Party's nominee for the 2002 Presidential Election.
When Bartlet disclosed to the nation that he hid his multiple sclerosis condition 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 Georgia and Florida, two 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."