History of Women Governors

History of Women Governors
37

women (22D, 15R) have served as governors in 27 states.

22 D
15 R

In addition, one woman has served as governor in Puerto Rico. Arizona is the first state where a woman succeeded another woman as governor, and the first state to have had four women governors. Of the 37 women governors, 25 were first elected in their own right; 3 replaced their husbands, and 9 became governor by constitutional succession, three of whom subsequently won full terms. The record number of women serving simultaneously, achieved in 2004 and again in 2007, is 9. 

Name (Party-State) Dates Served Special Circumstances
Nellie Tayloe Ross (D-WY) 1925-1927 Won special election to replace deceased husband.
Miriam "Ma" Ferguson (D-TX) 1925-1927,
1933-1935
Inaugurated 15 days after Ross; elected as surrogate for husband who could not succeed himself.
Lurleen Wallace (D-AL) 1967-1968 Elected as surrogate for husband who could not succeed himself.
Ella Grasso (D-CT) 1975-1980 First woman elected governor in her own right; resigned for health reasons.
Dixy Lee Ray (D-WA) 1977-1981  
Vesta Roy (R-NH) 1982-1983 Elected to state senate and chosen as senate president; served as governor for seven days when incumbent died.
Martha Layne Collins (D-KY) 1984-1987  
Madeleine Kunin (D-VT) 1985-1991 First and only woman to serve three terms as governor.
Kay Orr (R-NE) 1987-1991 First Republican woman governor and first woman to defeat another woman in a gubernatorial race.
Rose Mofford (D-AZ) 1988-1991 Elected as secretary of state, succeeded governor who was impeached and convicted.
Joan Finney (D-KS) 1991-1995 First woman to defeat an incumbent governor.
Ann Richards (D-TX) 1991-1995  
Barbara Roberts (D-OR) 1991-1995  
Christine Todd Whitman (R-NJ) 1994-2001 Resigned to take presidential appointment as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) 1997-2003  
Jane Dee Hull (R-AZ) 1997-2003 Elected as secretary of state, succeeded governor who resigned; later elected to a full term.
Nancy Hollister (R-OH) 1998-1999 Elected lieutenant governor; served as governor for 11 days when predecessor took U.S. Senate seat and successor had not yet been sworn in.
Jane Swift (R-MA) 2001-2003 Elected as lieutenant governor, succeeded governor who resigned for an ambassadorial appointment.
Judy Martz (R-MT) 2001-2005  
Sila Calderon (Popular Democratic Party-PR) 2001-2005 Former mayor of San Juan, first woman governor of Puerto Rico.
Ruth Ann Minner (D-DE) 2001-2009  
Linda Lingle (R-HI) 2002-2010  
Olene Walker (R-UT) 2003-2005 Elected as lieutenant governor, succeeded governor who resigned to take a federal appointment.
Janet Napolitano (D-AZ) 2003-2009 First woman to succeed another woman as governor. Resigned to become U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security.
Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS) 2003-2009 Father was governor of Ohio. Resigned to become U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services
Jennifer M. Granholm (D-MI) 2003-2011  
Kathleen Blanco (D-LA) 2004-2008  
M. Jodi Rell (R-CT) 2004-2011 Elected as lieutenant governor, succeeded governor who resigned.
Christine Gregoire (D-WA) 2005-2013  
Sarah Palin (R-AK) 2007-2009 Resigned.
Beverly M. Perdue (D-NC) 2009-2013  
Jan Brewer (R-AZ) 2009-2015 Elected as secretary of state, succeeded governor who resigned.
Mary Fallin (R-OK) 2011-present  
Nikki Haley (R-SC) 2011-present Haley and Martinez were the first women of color to serve as governors. 
Susana Martinez (R-NM) 2011-present Martinez  and Haley were the first women of color to serve as governors. 
Maggie Hassan (D-NH) 2013-present  
Kate Brown (D-OR) 2015-present Elected as secretary of state, succeeded governor who resigned.
Gina Raimondo (D-RI) 2015-present  

 

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