List 12 women serving as governors with notable firsts


DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A record 12 women will take their seat as their state’s highest-ranking elected official when the nation’s governors are inaugurated this winter.

The number surpasses the all-time high of nine set in 2004, with The Associated Press calling Arizona’s gubernatorial election Monday for Democrat Katie Hobbs, and Massachusetts’ Democrat Maura Healey and Arkansas Republican Sarah Huckabee Sanders winning last week’s elections .

“This is not incremental growth. We are still a long way from political parity for women in leadership positions. But it feels like a breakthrough,” said Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. “This is particularly important because these board positions were very difficult to crack. In many ways, these women are fundamentally disruptive to who a CEO can be.”

Sanders, the daughter of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and White House press secretary during the Trump administration, will be the first woman to become her state’s governor. Dobbs, on the other hand, will be her state’s fifth woman to serve as governor when she takes the oath of office in early January.

The dozen is decidedly Democratic in composition, with eight party affiliates compared to four Republicans. This is consistent with more women in elected office identifying as Democrats than Republicans in the US House of Representatives, Senate and state legislatures.

Other firsts in the group include newly elected Oregon governor Tina Kotek, who will be among the first two openly lesbian governors alongside Healey in Massachusetts. Kotek succeeds Governor Kate Brown, a Democrat who identifies as bisexual and became the first openly LGBTQ woman elected governor in the United States in 2014.

Despite the gains, only one woman of color was elected governor. New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat who is Latina, was reelected. Three black women — Stacy Abrams of Georgia, Deidre DeJear of Iowa and Yolanda Flowers of Alabama — won the Democratic nomination for governor but were defeated by incumbent Republican governors last week.

The others are Republicans Kay Ivey of Alabama, Kim Reynolds of Iowa and Kristi Noem of South Dakota, and Democrats Kathy Hochul of New York, Janet Mills of Maine, Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and Laura Kelly of Kansas.


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