Sunday, December 27, 2009;
Call it liberation: Women's path to public office no longer depends on the death of their spouses. In fact, female candidates are major players in key 2010 races. Some candidates to watch:
U.S. SENATE RACES
Former Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley won the Democratic primary to replace the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D). She's favored to win the Jan. 19, 2010, special election and would become her state's first female senator.
New Hampshire's first female attorney general, Republican Kelly Ayotte, resigned to run for the Senate. She will likely challenge Rep. Paul Hodes, a Democrat, in November for the seat to be vacated by Republican Judd Gregg.
California Democrat Barbara Boxer, who has served in the Senate since 1993, may face a name-brand opponent in November. Republican Carly Fiorina, the former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, and a candidate in her party's primary, is armed with an endorsement from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
Robin Carnahan, Missouri's Democratic Secretary of State, is running for senator. A breast cancer survivor, Carnahan faces a tight race with Rep. Roy Blunt, a Republican, in November.
Democrat Blanche Lincoln, Arkansas' senior senator, faces a tough race next year after supporting health-care reform. In a recent Rasmussen poll, she was running well behind the Republican field.
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who was appointed in 2009 to fill Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's seat, is running on her own record next year. Republican Rudolph Giuliani, who had had led Gillibrand in general election polling, announced last week that he would not run for the seat.
Democrat Alex Sink, Florida's chief financial officer, is vying to become the Sunshine State's first female governor. Should she win her party's nomination, she will probably face Republican front-runner Bill McCollum in November. However, Paula Dockery, a Republican state senator, remains in the race.
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) is running for governor. A senator since 1993, she faces the incumbent governor, Rick Perry, and Republican Party official Debra Medina in a March primary.
With Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger term-limited out of office, California's gubernatorial race is flooded with possible candidates, including Republican Meg Whitman, former chief executive of eBay, and longtime Democratic Reps. Jane Harman and Loretta Sanchez. California has never had a female governor.
U.S. HOUSE RACES
Freshman Betsy Markey (D-Colo.), who voted against health-care reform, may have trouble holding on to her seat. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Ohio), who narrowly beat Republican Steve Stivers in 2008, will face him again in November. Republican Feda Kidd Morton, an educator, small-government advocate and mother of five, will take on Virginia Democrat Tom Perriello, who is considered vulnerable.
-- Justin Moyer, with research assistance from Madonna Lebling