The US will have a record number of female governors in 2023. Still, the record-setting number – 12 – will represent a small fraction of the top executives across the 50 states.
The previous record of nine female governors serving concurrently was set in 2004, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.
Incumbent female governors in Maine, Alabama, Michigan, Iowa, South Dakota, Kansas and New Mexico won reelection on Tuesday, while New York Gov. Kathy Hochul won a first full term after taking over the top job in 2021 following the resignation of Andrew Cuomo. Hochul will become the first elected female governor in the state.
Two states – Massachusetts and Arkansas – elected new female governors. Democrat Maura Healey will become the first woman elected to the governorship of Massachusetts and the first out lesbian governor in the US. Republican Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a former White House press secretary in the Trump administration, will become the state’s first female governor, winning the job that her father once held.
Arkansas and Massachusetts will also become the first states to have women serving in the governor and lieutenant governor positions at the same time, according to CAWP.
CNN has yet to make a projection in two gubernatorial races – Arizona and Oregon – in which all the candidates are women. Those states are included in the record-setting 12.
Democrat Katie Hobbs, the Arizona secretary of state, was narrowly leading Republican Kari Lake, a favorite of former President Donald Trump, in the Grand Canyon State, as of Wednesday evening.
And in Oregon, Democrat Tina Kotek, a former state House speaker, was marginally ahead of Republican Christine Drazan, a former state House minority leader, while former state Sen. Betsy Johnson, an independent, was pulling less than 10% of the vote, as of Wednesday evening. Kotek could also become one of the first out lesbian governors in the country.
Even before Election Day, 2022 had set a record for the number of all-female gubernatorial matchups. Those five states were Arizona, Alabama, Iowa, Michigan and Oregon. Before this year, there had only been four woman-versus-woman gubernatorial matchups in all of history, according to CAWP. In total, 25 women were nominated for governor by the two major parties in 2022, a historical record. Sixteen of them were Democrats and nine were Republicans.
Of the gubernatorial races that CNN has projected so far, Democrats have won six and Republicans have won four.