By John Celock
Democratic women will control two governorships starting in January, doubling the amount over the last two years.
Rhode Island Gov.-elect Gina Raimondo’s election Tuesday along with New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan’s reelection to a second term led to the count, a goal of Washington-based Democratic groups since 2012. Over the last two years, Republican women controlled four governorships compared to Hassan.
While Raimondo, a one-term state treasurer, doubled the number, Tuesday saw three highly touted female gubernatorial candidates go down to defeat. In Texas, state Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) had been touted nationally as a gubernatorial hopeful following her 2013 filibuster to end an anti-abortion bill in the state. Davis was defeated by Republican Gov.-elect Greg Abbott on Tuesday. In Massachusetts, Democratic state Attorney General Martha Coakley was defeated by Republican Gov.-elect Charlie Baker and in Wisconsin Democrat Mary Burke was defeated by Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
Nationally Democrats have expressed concern over the lack of women in their gubernatorial ranks since 2012 when Hassan was the only Democratic woman to seek a governor’s mansion. In 2012, former Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire (D) and former North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue (D) did not seek reelection.
On the GOP side, all three Republican women governors seeking reelection – Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez – were reelected. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) could not seek reelection due to term limits this year. Raimondo’s election and Brewer’s leaving office will hold the number of female governors at five.
Raimondo will be the first woman to govern Rhode Island. Hassan is the third woman to led the Granite State following U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D), who was governor for six years, and former acting Gov. Vesta Roy (R), who briefly led the state in the early 1980s.