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She defeated Engler's Lieutenant Governor Dick Posthumus by 51% to 47% and became Michigan's first female governor on January 1, 2003.She was re-elected to a second term in 2006 against Republican businessman Dick De Vos by a large margin and served until January 1, 2011, when she was term-limited.Unopposed for the Democratic nomination, she faced Republican John Smietanka, the 1994 nominee and former U. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, in the general election.The campaign began as a relatively friendly one, He also tried to link Granholm to Democratic gubernatorial nominee Geoffrey Fieger's crime plan, which called for greater emphasis on rehabilitation for non-violent criminals and shortening their prison terms.Thirty-seven year Democratic Attorney General Frank J.Kelley chose not to run for a 10th term in 1998 and Granholm entered the race to succeed him.Granholm, who had disavowed Fieger's crime plan the day it was released, said that the claim was "a lie, just a lie" and that as Attorney General, "you are the person who is to protect the consumer from deceitful ads." For his part, Smietanka was angered by Democratic advertisements that referred to late child support payments he had made and claimed that he had lied about how much of his own money he donated to his campaign.After Granholm was elected Governor in 2002, arguments broke about between Smietanka and then-Republican Governor John Engler about who was most responsible for Granholm's meteoric rise in Michigan politics.

After leaving public office, Granholm took a position at U. Berkeley and, with her husband Daniel Mulhern, authored A Governor's Story: The Fight for Jobs and America's Future, released in September 2011.Smietanka blamed Engler for trying to force him out of the 1998 race in favour of G.Scott Romney, for dredging up the issue of his missed child support payments and for not supporting him more fully after he defeated Romney at the Republican convention.In February 2002, Granholm announced that her office was joining with the AARP Michigan State Office to help consumers fight calls from telemarketers.In the 2002 election, incumbent Republican Governor John Engler was term-limited and not able to run for re-election to a fourth term in office.

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