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Cynthia Nixon, one of two women candidates running for governor in New York, speaking at an event in 2013.
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Transit Authority, Flickr
Girls & Women

A Record Number of US Women Are Running for Governor This Year

The United States has never had more than nine of its 50 state governor seats filled by women at once, according to Bloomberg. But with more women running for governor this year than ever before, that could soon change.

Seventy-seven women have run or are expected to run in the 36 states with gubernatorial elections this year, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. That’s more than double the previous record of 34 female candidates in 1994, Bloomberg reports.

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From coast to coast, women are stepping up to lead.

Connecticut boasts the most women running for governor with six in a crowded field of 26 candidates, while Alaska is the only state holding an election this year that didn’t field any female candidates. Illinois no longer has any women candidates in the running since Jeanne Ives lost to her opponent, the Republican incumbent, in primary elections that were held on March 20.

Currently, there are four women governors — Democrats in Oregon and Rhode Island and Republicans in Iowa and Alabama — and all are up for re-election this year.

Read More: Africa’s First Female President Won a $5 Million Prize and She’ll Use It To Empower Women

Several factors have likely contributed to the record number of women running for governor. Eighteen states have no incumbent running, an unusually high number for one election season. Incumbent governors in the US win re-election between 60% and 90% of the time, according to the Center for the American Governor at Rutgers University. The relatively low number of incumbent governors in this year’s race means that new candidates may be more willing to run now.

The resurging #MeToo movement has also highlighted the need for women in leadership positions and has likely contributed to the increase in women candidates. Backlash against the Trump administration may have also played a role, especially for Democrats. Nearly two-thirds of the women running for governor this year are Democrats.

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