Breaking News
More () »

History made in governors' races as record number of women elected

Plus, while nearly 20 states have never been led by a woman, one of them is changing that.

WASHINGTON — With votes still being counted, there are some key races from Tuesday's midterms left to be decided. But one thing is clear as results trickle in: A record number of women will be serving as governor. 

The number of women serving as governors will hit double digits for the first time in 2023, with at least 12 women set to lead states.  

Twelve have now won their races. The previous record, nine, was set nearly 20 years ago and matched in 2007, 2019 and 2021. 

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly broke the record when she was declared the winner Wednesday in the race for Kansas governor. 

Women are still underrepresented in the highest levels of U.S. government, making up 24% of the Senate, 28.3% of the House — not to mention 0% of presidents. Tuesday's election will raise the percentage of female governors from 18% to at least 22%. 

Some 18 states still have never been led by a woman. That includes some of the nation's most populous states, like California, Florida, Pennsylvania and Illinois. Arkansas, previously 19th on that list, elected former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to the office Tuesday.

This year's field of candidates for governor included 25 women from varying political backgrounds — a "record number," Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for Women and Politics at Rutgers University, told NPR.

One of the candidates, Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey, made her own history Tuesday in Massachusetts when she was elected as the nation's first openly lesbian governor. She defeated Republican Geoff Diehl, a former state representative.

Here are the 12 women elected governor in the midterm elections.

The race in and Arizona had not yet been called by the Associated Press. 

  1. Kay Ivey (Alabama)
  2. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (Arkansas)
  3. Kim Reynolds (Iowa)
  4. Maura Healey (Massachusetts)
  5. Kristi Noem (South Dakota)
  6. Michelle Lujan Grisham (New Mexico)
  7. Janet Mills (Maine)
  8. Kathy Hochul (New York)
  9. Gretchen Whitmer (Michigan)
  10. Laura Kelly (Kansas) 
  11. Tina Kotek (Oregon)
  12. Katie Hobbs (Arizona)

Before You Leave, Check This Out