Mary Burke made Wisconsin history Tuesday.
She and South Dakota’s Susan Wismer — both of them Democrats — this year became the first women since 1970 and likely ever to secure a major-party nomination for governor in their respective states, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. In eight other states, that has yet to happen. Women only began taking office in significant numbers around the early 1970s, following the growth of the women’s rights movement, which is why CAWP is relatively sure that there weren’t earlier nominees, according to a spokeswoman.
The eight states without a female major-party nominee since at least 1970 are: Georgia, Idaho, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, Ohio, Tennessee and Utah. (Ohio has had an acting female governor, but not a candidate. Former Utah Gov. Olene Walker (R) took office through succession and was therefore never nominated to run.) All told, 24 states, including Wisconsin, have never had a female governor, according to the center.
Only five sitting governors are women, four of them Republicans. In 2004 and 2007, a record nine women served as governor concurrently. In all, just 35 women have ever held the office in any state.
Nellie Tayloe Ross (D) became the nation’s first female governor in 1925 after winning the special election to replace her deceased husband in Wyoming. Two other female governors first took office in the same way, while 23 were elected in their own right.
Of the 318 statewide elective executive offices nationwide, women hold just 72 or 22.6 percent of them. Women have been elected to statewide executive office in all but one state, Maine, where the only such office is that of the governor, which has never been held by a woman.
Women currently serve as 11 lieutenant governors, eight attorneys general, 11 secretaries of state and seven state treasurers or chief financial officers.