The Democrat had expected a harder campaign this year against Lt. Gov. Barbara Snelling, but she had to drop out of the race after a near-fatal stroke.
Dean won with a single-person campaign staff. In his acceptance speech he praised Gropper for his "gentlemanly campaign."
"I appreciate his hard work and the ideas that we are going to use," he said.
Dean's easy campaign also allowed him to boost other Democratic candidates in his state, notably Lt. Gov. Douglas Racine, who Republicans had viewed as the easiest to defeat. President Clinton also won a decisive victory in the state, and Republicans were shut out of the U.S. House race by independent candidate Bernard Sanders, who defeated Republican Susan Sweetser.