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Women Governors

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The first three women governors of any American states replaced their husbands. Many later women governors have been elected in their own right or have succeeded an incumbent. Here's a list of the women governors in the United States, in chronological order:

  1. Nellie Tayloe Ross
    • Wyoming, Democrat, 1925-1927
      replaced late husband, winning special election

  2. Miriam "Ma" Ferguson
    • Texas, Democrat, 1925-1927, 1933-1935
      surrogate for her husband who was prohibited by law from succeeding himself

  3. Lurleen Wallace
    • Alabama, Democrat, 1967-1968
      surrogate for her husband who was prohibited by law from succeeding himself

  4. Ella Grasso
    • Connecticut, Democrat, 1975-1980
      first woman governor who did not succeed her husband; resigned for health reasons

  5. Dixy Lee Ray
    • Washington, Democrat, 1977-1981
      defeated in the primary when she was running for a second term

  6. Vesta Roy
    • New Hampshire, Republican, 1982-1983
      served seven days after death of incumbent

  7. Martha Layne Collins
    • Kentucky, Democrat, 1984-1987
      chairperson of the 1984 Democratic National Convention

  8. Madeleine Kunin
    • Vermont, Democrat, 1985-1991
      later Ambassador to Switzerland

  9. Kay Orr
    • Nebraska, Republican, 1987-1991
      first Republican woman elected governor; first woman governor elected by defeating another woman

  10. Rose Mofford
    • Arizona, Democrat, 1988-1991
      succeeded an incumbent who was impeached and then convicted

  11. Joan Finney
    • Kansas, Democrat, 1991-1995
      first woman governor who won election against an incumbent

  12. Ann Richards
    • Texas, Democrat, 1991-1995
      defeated by George W. Bush

  13. Barbara Roberts
    • Oregon, Democrat, 1991-1995
      did not seek reelection in 1994

  14. Christine Todd Whitman
    • New Jersey, Republican, 1994-2001
      resigned for appointment as commissioner, Environmental Protection Agency

  15. Jane Dee Hull
    • Arizona, Republican, 1997-2003
      succeeded incumbent who resigned; subsequently elected to a full term

  16. Jeanne Shaheen
    • New Hampshire, Democrat, 1997-2003
      ran unsuccessfully for US Senate in 2002, successfully in 2008

  17. Nancy Hollister
    • Ohio, Republican, 1998-1999
      served 11 days when predecessor moved to US Senate and before an appointment was made

  18. Jane Swift
    • Massachusetts, Republican, 2001-2003
      succeeded incumbent who resigned to become an ambassador

  19. Judy Martz
    • Montana, Republican, 2001-2005
      member of the 1964 US Olympic Speed Skating Team

  20. Sila Maria Calderon
    • Puerto Rico, Popular Democratic Party, 2001-2005
      former mayor of San Juan

  21. Ruth Ann Minner
    • Delaware, Democrat, 2001-2009
      served two terms as lieutenant governor

  22. Linda Lingle
    • Hawaii, Republican, 2002-2010
      former mayor of Maui County

  23. Jennifer M. Granholm
    • Michigan, Democrat, 2003-2011
      former prosecutor

  24. Janet Napolitano
    • Arizona, Democrat, 2003-2009
      first Arizona woman governor to win reelection; became Secretary of Homeland Security under President Obama

  25. Kathleen Sebelius
    • Kansas, Democrat, 2003-2009
      daughter of an Ohio governor (male)

  26. Oline Walker
    • Utah, Republican, 2003-2005
      succeeded incumbent who took federal position

  27. Kathleen Blanco
    • Louisiana, Democrat, 2004-2008
      was governor at the time of Hurricane Katrina

  28. M. Jodi Rell
    • Connecticut, Republican, 2004-2011
      succeeded incumbent who resigned

  29. Christine Gregoire
    • Washington, Democrat, 2004-2013
      former director of the Washington Department of Ecology

  30. Sarah Palin
    • Alaska, Republican, 2006-2009
      former mayor of Wasilla; first female governor of Alaska; first female governor to run for vice president as the candidate of a major party (2008); resigned in 2009 to pursue other goals

  31. Beverly Perdue
    • North Carolina, Democrat, 2009-2013
      former lieutenant governor; first woman governor of North Carolina

  32. Jan Brewer
    • Arizona, Republican, 2009-
      Arizona Secretary of State when she succeeded Gov. Janet Napolitano, who became Secretary of Homeland Security; third consecutive woman to serve as Arizona governor

  33. Susana Martinez
    • New Mexico, Republican, 2011-
      First female Hispanic American governor of any of the 50 states, first woman governor of New Mexico

  34. Mary Fallin
    • Oklahoma, Republican, 2011-
      Oklahoma's first woman governor

  35. Nikki Haley
    • South Carolina, Republican, 2011-
      South Carolina's first woman governor, first female of Indian or Asian descent to serve as governor of any state
  36. Maggie Hassan
    • New Hampshire, Democrat, 2013 -
      Second woman to hold the office, after Jeanne Shaheen (above)

Women's history biographies, by name:

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P/Q | R | S | T | U/V | W | X/Y/Z

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