HomeLearning CenterWith Renewed Focus On State Powers, More Women Are Running For Governor

With Renewed Focus On State Powers, More Women Are Running For Governor

The number of female governors may finally hit double digits after the upcoming midterm elections.

Currently, nine women hold the office — six Democrats and three Republicans. And an influx of women running for governor could push that number up considerably. Of the 36 states with gubernatorial races this year, 20 have women on the ballot, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. Since 1925, just 45 women have served as governor of a state.

These women are positioning themselves as the best leaders to make decisions about fundamental issues.

“It’s one of the most powerful political positions in the country, and that is especially true when we are talking about key policy debates,” said Kelly Dittmar, research director at CAWP, citing abortion rights and education as two primary examples.

“Governors play critical roles in these policy debates, so having more women in these positions has serious implications,” Dittmar said.

For those keeping score, Oregon’s Kate Brown is the only woman incumbent governor on her way out. Brown, a Democrat, first assumed office in 2015 after the resignation of John Kitzhaber. Now, due to term limits, the statehouse is open. With three women at the top of the ballot — the Democratic candidate Tina Kotek, the Republican Christine Drazan, and the independent Betsy Johnson — Oregon will almost certainly be choosing another woman for the job.

Alabama, Arizona, Iowa and Michigan are likewise all but assured to elect a woman governor, with the nominees for both leading parties being women. This marks a major pickup of all-woman gubernatorial races as, prior to 2022, the U.S. had only ever had four such contests: three in 2020, one in 2002, and the first in 1986.


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