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It May Be a Great Year for Women Governors

Maybe a Great Year for Women Governors: The share of governorships held by women might reach or even exceed 20 percent this year. That may sound unimpressive, but it would still represent a historic advance.

Currently, there are nine women governors. That number ties the all-time record for women governors serving at the same time, first reached in 2004 and repeated several times since. Following the November elections, there could be more, with women looking likely to succeed men in several states, notably Sarah Huckabee Sanders in Arkansas, Maura Healey in Massachusetts and one of the two women nominees in Arizona. Sanders would be the first woman governor to serve alongside a woman lieutenant governor.

“There has been a growing momentum of women running for office,” says Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. “We’ve seen it at every other level.”

There are not only record numbers of women candidates in total but record numbers of Black, Hispanic and Asian women who ran this year. The biggest change, however, has not been demographic but partisan. While lots of Democratic women ran for governor in 2018, this time it’s Republicans who are surging. The previous record of GOP women candidates, Walsh says, was 20. This year, there were 37. A record number of states are seeing women vs. women contests, including key matchups in Arizona, Michigan and Oregon.

“Republican women are going to make history in gubernatorial races across the country this November,” says Joanna Rodriguez, deputy communications director for the Republican Governors Association.


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